Key features of adolescent inpatient units and development of a checklist to improve consistency in reporting of settings

Claire Hayes, Magenta Simmons, Victoria Palmer, Bridget Hamilton, Christine Simons, Malcolm Hopwood

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review


What is known on the subject?: Little is known about adolescent inpatient units, key features which define them, and how these essential services operate and deliver care. What the paper adds to existing knowledge?: Adolescent inpatient unit studies are limited in their descriptions of settings in terms of how they operate and key features. The proposed preliminary checklist is a practical tool to assist clinicians, policy makers, and researchers when reporting to ensure comprehensive descriptions of adolescent inpatient settings. What are the implications for practice?: This could be used to inform service design processes for inpatient and other mental health service models which is of critical importance in the context of reforms and implementation of these in Australia currently. Greater attention to operational models, services, and philosophies of practice will improve reporting and allow for the advancement of knowledge, comparison of study results, and a clearer direction for mental health nursing clinicians and researchers. Abstract: Introduction Adolescent inpatient units care for vulnerable population groups; however, little is known about how these essential services operate and deliver care. Aims To examine the descriptions of adolescent mental health inpatient units in Australian and international research publications and to identify key features which were used to define them. A secondary aim was to develop a checklist to improve consistency when reporting on the operations and services delivered within adolescent mental health inpatient units (both public and private). Methods Five electronic databases (CINAHL, MEDLINE, ERIC, EMBASE, and PsycINFO) were systematically searched. We included studies that provided descriptions of operations and services within adolescent inpatient units where participants had a mean age between 12 and 25. Narrative synthesis was used to explore the similarities and differences between descriptions of settings. Results Twenty-eight studies were identified, which varied in their descriptions of adolescent inpatient units, providing inconsistent information to inform best practice. Discussion Studies lack consistency and comprehensive detail when describing the operational models within inpatient units, making interpretation challenging. Consequently, a preliminary checklist is proposed to improve reporting of adolescent inpatient units.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-100
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Inpatient Units
  • Mental Health
  • Model of Care

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