Health service use for young males and females with a mental disorder is higher than their peers in a population-level matched cohort

Rebecca J. Mitchell*, Anne McMaugh, Reidar P. Lystad, Cate M. Cameron, Olav Nielssen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Background: To inform healthcare planning and resourcing, population-level information is required on the use of health services among young people with a mental disorder. This study aims to identify the health service use associated with mental disorders among young people using a population-level matched cohort. Method: A population-based matched case-comparison retrospective cohort study of young people aged ≤ 18 years hospitalised for a mental disorder during 2005–2018 in New South Wales, Australia was conducted using linked birth, health, and mortality records. The comparison cohort was matched on age, sex and residential postcode. Adjusted rate ratios (ARR) were calculated for key demographics and mental disorder type by sex. Results: Emergency department visits, hospital admissions and ambulatory mental health service contacts were all higher for males and females with a mental disorder than matched peers. Further hospitalisation risk was over 10-fold higher for males with psychotic (ARR 13.69; 95%CI 8.95–20.94) and anxiety (ARR 11.44; 95%CI 8.70-15.04) disorders, and for both males and females with cognitive and behavioural delays (ARR 10.79; 95%CI 9.30-12.53 and ARR 14.62; 95%CI 11.20-19.08, respectively), intellectual disability (ARR 10.47; 95%CI 8.04–13.64 and ARR 11.35; 95%CI 7.83–16.45, respectively), and mood disorders (ARR 10.23; 95%CI 8.17–12.80 and ARR 10.12; 95%CI 8.58–11.93, respectively) compared to peers. Conclusion: The high healthcare utilisation of young people with mental disorder supports the need for the development of community and hospital-based services that both prevent unnecessary hospital admissions in childhood and adolescence that can potentially reduce the burden and loss arising from mental disorders in adult life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1359
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Early online date16 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2022. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Hospitalisation
  • Mental disorders
  • Outpatient
  • Youth


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