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The all-Wales forensic adolescent consultation and treatment service (FACTS): A 5-year referral cohort study

Kalebic, Natasha, Argent, Sarah, Austin, Harry, Bramley, Lachlan, O'Connor, Gwen, Hoskins, Caroline, Willis, Abigail, Withecomb, Julie, Forrester, Andrew ORCID:, Morgan, Peter ORCID: and Taylor, Pamela J. ORCID: 2022. The all-Wales forensic adolescent consultation and treatment service (FACTS): A 5-year referral cohort study. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health 32 (3) 10.1002/cbm.2244

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Background FACTS is a Wales-wide mental health service for 10–17-year-olds with needs beyond the remit of mainstream child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). As a purely consultation-liaison service, it differs from other UK services in the field. Aims To describe a complete cohort of referrals to FACTS 2013–2017 with service exit by June 2018. Methods Clinical, social and offending data were extracted from FACTS records. Results 80 young people completed a FACTS episode, averaging nearly a year (309 days; range 13–859 days). Mostly boys (65, 81%) of mean age 15.4 years (range 9–18), two-thirds (n = 53) had three or more referral reasons, one invariably being threatened/actual harm to others; only half were criminal-justice involved. Half (41, 51%) were committing sexually harmful acts. Half were self-harming (41, 51%). All but seven had had at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE), nearly half (35, 44%) four or more. Nevertheless, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was rarely diagnosed (7, 9%); just over one-quarter (23, 29%) had no diagnosis at all. Correspondence analyses endorsed two distinct Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder groups, distinguished by presence/absence of evidenced brain damage or dysfunction. Suicide-related behaviours clustered with the other diagnoses, flashbacks and psychotic symptoms with no diagnosis. Change in home circumstances during a FACTS episode was slight. Conclusions The complexity of presenting problems and service involvement evidences need for FACTS. The extent of persistently harmful sexual behaviours is a novel finding, suggesting need for more expert input for this at other service levels. Rarity of PTSD diagnoses was surprising given the extent of ACEs. This raises concerns that services focus on disorder signs rather than the child's inner life. Given the extent of problems, minimal change may be a positive outcome – especially when remaining in the community. Further development of this service should include explicit case-by-case goals and indicative outcome markers.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0957-9664
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 July 2022
Date of Acceptance: 4 June 2022
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2023 16:48

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