A recurring theme in evaluations of Swedish residential youth care is that treatment is often unplanned. Using a data set of teenagers placed in youth care in 1991 (N=357), we show that planned treatment — in the sense of a known expected duration of treatment — is strongly positively associated with treatment outcomes. In the short term, teenagers with planned treatment are 32% less likely to experience a treatment breakdown and 25% less likely to be reassigned to other forms of residential care after completed treatment. In the long term, teenagers with planned treatment are 21% less likely to engage in criminal behavior and 40% less likely to be hospitalized for mental health problems. The results are robust to controlling for a rich set of potentially confounding factors: Even though observable pre-treatment teenager characteristics explain about one fifth of the variation in criminal behavior 5–10 years after treatment, they have almost no predictive power for whether treatment is planned or unplanned.
Lindqvist, Erik (2011),
"Planned Treatment and Outcomes in Residential Youth Care: Evidence from Sweden".
Children and Youth Services Review