A national survey of consultants in child and adolescent psychiatry was conducted to explore their attitudes to copying correspondence to patients and their families and the impact of recent national guidelines on practice.
Of the 290 respondents, 261 (90%) agreed in principle with copying letters to patients but only two-thirds (n=186) were routinely doing so. Nearly half (n=139, 48%) had changed their practice as a consequence of the guidelines. The majority (n=160, 55%) felt that the guidelines lacked clarity with regard to the complexities of child psychiatry and a third (n=93, 32%) had experienced difficulties when copying letters to patients.
This survey highlights some of the benefits and risks involved in child and adolescent psychiatry when letters are routinely shared with families. Increased openness and transparency can enhance the therapeutic relationship; however, given the complexities and sensitivities implicit in child psychiatry, there is a risk of jeopardising engagement and alienating the family.
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