Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Debora S. Rice


Mental health is a growing concern for adolescents. Billions of dollars are spent annually on mental services for youth. Many adolescents experience abuse, suicidal ideations, psychotic disorders, substance abuse, and other challenges. Recurring inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations are increasing among adolescents. The recurring admissions impact adolescents significantly socially, psychologically, and financially. Social workers are a vital part of this treatment process from admission to discharge. The research question asked what were the issues and challenges social workers encounter when conducting discharge planning with adolescents receiving recurring inpatient psychiatric treatment. The purpose for this doctoral project was to carefully examine the discharge planning process while identifying ways social workers can positively impact the process. Key concepts for this project were adolescent, inpatient hospitalization, recurring hospitalization, and discharge planning. Systems theory was used to inform the project. This action research study allowed social workers to share their experiences and perspectives about the role of social workers in discharge planning. Seven participants were identified using purposive sampling. One focus group provided data for project. Data analysis consisted of in vivo and process coding. Four participant-inspired themes identified related to issues and challenges in discharge planning include (a) adequate resources, (b) insurance restrictions, (c) rapport with adolescents, and (d) parental participation. Social work practice and positive social change implications include establishing follow-up protocol for all adolescent discharges from inpatient settings and increasing the use of encouragement and engagement strategies for rapport building with adolescents.