Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Committee Chair

Dr. Patricia B. Howard

Clinical Mentor

Dr. Jennifer Le

Committee Member

Dr. Peggy El-Mallakh

Committee Member

Dr. Evelyn Parrish


Mental Health disorders affect 1 of 5 youth in the United States and are chronic conditions that affect adolescents’ ability to function at home, school, work, and with interpersonal relationships. Follow up adherence is imperative to ensure treatment goals are met. The purpose of this Doctor of Nursing (DNP) project was to examine factors associated with adherence to outpatient mental health (MH) treatment following an emergency department (ED) visit among adolescents admitted to an ED of a large hospital in a multi-system healthcare organization located in a metropolitan area of the southeastern United States (U.S.). This DNP project aims were to examine patterns of service use, demographic characteristics, and diagnostic factors of adolescents who utilized the hospital ED of the study site for mental illness needs. Electronic medical records were reviewed to obtain data related to demographic characteristics, diagnostic factors, and other information pertinent to the study aims about the adolescents treated in the ED psychiatric unit. These included: scheduling of a follow-up appointment at discharge; disposition upon discharge; length of total time an adolescent spends in the unit; characteristics of treatment; and the length of time between discharge and scheduled follow-up appointments The DNP project provided data that revealed follow up plans were not provided within the discharge plans. Based on the findings of this project, psychiatric follow up planning appears to be deficient at discharge and potentially affects patient care. Continued evaluations are recommended to determine the highest quality of continuity after psychiatric emergency services.