All Part 2 and Part 4 activities, including Question of the Week, will not be available on Thursday, Jan. 27, from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET, due to scheduled maintenance. Thank you for understanding.

Competency of Future Pediatricians Caring for Children With Behavioral and Mental Health Problems

Green C, Leyenaar JK, Turner AL, Leslie LK
Pub Med #

Background and Objectives
There is an urgent need to prepare pediatricians to care for children with behavioral and mental health (B/MH) conditions. In this study, we evaluate the perceived competence of pediatric residents and recent graduates in the assessment and treatment of B/MH conditions, characterize variation in competence across residency programs, and identify program characteristics associated with high competence.

Cross-sectional survey of applicants for the initial certifying examination in pediatrics. Questions were focused on (1) who should be competent in B/MH skills, (2) institutional support around B/MH training, and (3) perceived competence in 7 B/MH assessment skills and 9 treatment skills. Competence was rated on a 5-point scale, and high levels of assessment and treatment competence were defined as scores of ≥4. Composite measures for B/MH assessment and treatment were calculated as mean scores for each domain. We examined variation in residents’ self-reported competence across programs and used linear regression to identify factors associated with high levels of competence at the program level.

Of applicants, 62.3% responded to the survey (n = 2086). Of these, 32.8% (n = 595) reported high competence in assessment skills and 18.9% (n = 337) in treatment skills. There were large variations in reported competence across programs. Respondents from smaller programs (<30 trainees) reported higher competence in assessment and treatment than those from large programs (P < .001).

Current and recent pediatric trainees do not report high levels of perceived competence in the assessment and treatment of children with B/MH conditions. The substantial variation across programs indicates that the pediatric community should create standards for B/MH training.