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The Eye of the Beholder: Youths and Parents Differ on What Matters in Mental Health Services


The goal of this study was to examine the degree to which youths and caregivers attend to different factors in evaluating their experiences with mental health programs. Youth (n = 251) receiving mental health services at community agencies and their caregivers (n = 275) were asked open-ended questions regarding the positive and negative aspects of the services. Qualitative analyses revealed some agreement but also divergence between youth and caregivers regarding the criteria by which services were evaluated and aspects of services that were valued most highly. Youths’ positive comments primarily focused on treatment outcomes while caregivers focused more on characteristics of the program and provider. Youths’ negative comments reflected dissatisfaction with the program, provider, and types of services offered while caregivers expressed dissatisfaction mainly with program characteristics. Results support the importance of assessing both youth and caregivers in attempts to understand the factors used by consumers to evaluate youth mental health services.

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