Do we need specialist adolescent units in hospitals?

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7292.941 (Published 21 April 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:941


  1. Aidan Macfarlane (Aidanmacfa@aol.com), international freelance consultant in strategic planning of child and adolescent services,
  2. Robert W Blum, professor and director
  1. Oxford OX1 4LJ
  2. Center for Adolescent Health, Universty of Minnesota, 200 Oak Street SE, Minneapolis, MN, 55455-2002

    Papers p 957

    If you were an adolescent aged 12–19 and you needed to be admitted to hospital would you want to be admitted to a paediatric unit with young children, an adult ward, or a separate unit just for adolescents? And if the last was your choice, what arguments would you put forward to justify it? A paper in this week's issue puts forward several.

    One argument for separate adolescent wards is that professionals skilled in the care of young people create a “therapeutic environment” that might be especially beneficial. However, this is difficult to prove and no one has undertaken a controlled study to identify such an impact. Most obviously it could be argued that properly organised adolescent units provide for the specific developmental needs of those in the second decade of life—schooling, recreation, socialising—as well as …

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