Friday, September 4, 2015

Wait Time To What? Could Reducing Wait Times for Child Mental Health Services Worsen Outcomes?

Below: Theoretical pathways linking shortened wait times to different clinical outcomes

Addressing wait times for health interventions is a Canadian priority (). In response, multiple wait time reduction initiatives have been launched. Chief among these is a key component of the federal-provincial “10-year Plan to Strengthen Health Care” () with associated monitoring to track progress in priority areas (). While mental illness was not one of the five priority areas (cancer care, cardiac care, diagnostic imaging, joint replacement, and sight restoration) identified in this initiative, mental illness has been designated in some priority lists, with some including a focus on children. A case in point exists in Alberta whereby children’s mental health was identified as one of six priority areas for access standards which led to child wait time benchmark recommendations () and a performance indicator of percent of children receiving scheduled mental health treatment within 30 days (). Unfortunately, reports of clinical outcomes from child mental health service wait time reduction initiatives seem nonexistent despite potential benefits and harms...

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