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Evaluation of a mental health drop-in centre offering brief transdiagnostic psychological assessment and treatment for children and adolescents with long-term physical conditions and their families: a single-arm, open, non-randomised trial
  1. Matteo Catanzano1,2,
  2. Sophie D Bennett1,2,
  3. Ellie Kerry1,2,
  4. Holan Liang1,2,
  5. Isobel Heyman1,2,
  6. Anna E Coughtrey1,2,
  7. Kate Fifield1,2,
  8. Chloe Taylor1,2,
  9. Tim Dalgleish3,
  10. Laila Xu1,
  11. Roz Shafran1,2
  1. 1UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2Psychological and Mental Health Services, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  3. 3MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Roz Shafran, PPP, University College London Institute of Child Health, London WC1N 1EH, UK; r.shafran{at}


Background Children and young people with long-term physical conditions have significantly elevated mental health needs. Transdiagnostic, brief psychological interventions have the potential to increase access to evidence-based psychological treatments for patients who attend health services primarily for physical health needs.

Objective A non-randomised study was conducted to assess the impact of brief, transdiagnostic psychological interventions in children and young people presenting at a drop-in mental health centre in the reception area of a paediatric hospital.

Methods 186 participants attending a transdiagnostic mental health drop-in centre were allocated to assessment and psychological intervention based on a clinical decision-making algorithm. Interventions included signposting, guided self-help based on a modular psychological treatment and referral to the hospital’s paediatric psychology service. The primary transdiagnostic mental health outcome measure was the parent-reported Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), which was given at baseline and 6 months post-baseline.

Findings There was a significant positive impact of attending the drop-in mental health centre on the SDQ (Cohen’s d=0.22) and on the secondary outcome measure of Paediatric Quality of life (Cohen’s d=0.55).

Conclusions A mental health drop-in centre offering brief, transdiagnostic assessment and treatment may reduce emotional and behavioural symptoms and improve quality of life in children and young people with mental health needs in the context of long-term physical conditions. A randomised controlled trial to investigate the specificity of any effects is warranted.

Clinical implications Drop-in centres for mental health needs may increase access and have beneficial effects for children and young people with physical conditions.

  • child & adolescent psychiatry
  • anxiety disorders
  • depression & mood disorders

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  • Contributors RS, AEC, IH and SDB designed the study. MC, KF, CT and EK collected the data. MC and EK carried out the intervention under supervision of SDB and HL. RS and SDB had oversight of the management of the project. KF, LX, EK and MC helped prepare the data for analysis. MC and LX carried out the analysis under supervision of SB and input from TD. All authors contributed to the writing and/or editing of the manuscript.

  • Funding This project was funded by The Beryl Alexander Charity and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

  • Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was granted by the London Riverside Research Ethics Committee (REC reference number: 16/LO/1915).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement De-identified data are available upon reasonable request by contacting the corresponding author.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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