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Abstract

Day therapy programs are one of many interventions available for adolescents with mental health issues. Day therapy programs utilise a multi-disciplinary community-based approach to the treatment of mental health issues and allow adolescents to remain under the care of their family. To date, no review has specifically investigated the effectiveness of day therapy programs for adolescents. This review aims to investigate both the effectiveness of day therapy programs for adolescents with mental health problems and highlight the key components underpinning these programs. A systematic review of peer- reviewed literature was undertaken, using recognised processes. Eight studies were included in this review, including both interventional and descriptive study designs. All eight studies found positive effects of varying degrees for day therapy programs for adolescents with mental health problems. Most used a multi-modal, multi-disciplinary group-based approach and utilised one or more co-interventions. A frequency of once per week was most commonly used; however, the optimal frequency and duration of day therapy programs remains unclear. Most studies used more than one type of health professional to deliver their intervention. Unsurprisingly, psychologists or psychiatrists were involved in delivering interventions in all but one study. Current research evidence suggests that day therapy programs may be an effective intervention for adolescents with mental health issues. A multimodal and multidisciplinary group-based treatment approach may be most effective, and participants could benefit from the involvement of at least one health professional from a psychology or psychiatric background. However, a range of health professionals may contribute to a day therapy program and a range of locations and settings may be appropriate. Further high-level, high-quality research using standardised outcome measures is required to support these findings and determine key parameters, such as an optimal frequency and duration for day therapy programs.

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