Home-based multisystemic therapy as an alternative to the hospitalization of youths in psychiatric crisis: Clinical outcomes

Scott W. Henggeler, Melisa D. Rowland, Jeff Randall, David M. Ward, Susan G. Pickrel, Phillippe B. Cunningham, Stagey L. Miller, James Edwards, Joseph J. Zealberg, Lisa D. Hand, Alberto B. Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

252 Scopus citations


Objective: The primary purpose of this study was to determine whether multisystemic therapy (MST), modified for use with youths presenting psychiatric emergencies, can serve as a clinically viable alternative to inpatient psychiatric hospitalization. Method: One hundred sixteen children and adolescents approved for emergency psychiatric hospitalization were randomly assigned to home-based MST or inpatient hospitalization. Assessments examining symptomatology, antisocial behavior, self-esteem, family relations, peer relations, school attendance, and consumer satisfaction were conducted at 3 times: within 24 hours of recruitment into the project, shortly after the hospitalized youth was released from the hospital (1-2 weeks after recruitment), and at the completion of MST home-based services (average of 4 months postrecruitment). Results: MST was more effective than emergency hospitalization at decreasing youths' externalizing symptoms and improving their family functioning and school attendance. Hospitalization was more effective than MST at improving youths' self-esteem. Consumer satisfaction scores were higher in the MST condition. Conclusions: The findings support the view that an intensive, well-specified, and empirically supported treatment model, with judicious access to placement, can effectively serve as a family and community-based alternative to the emergency psychiatric hospitalization of children and adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1331-1339
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Crisis
  • Multisystemmic therapy
  • Psychiatric hospitalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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