HealthDay News — The number of child psychiatrists has increased in the United States, although there is considerable regional variability, according to a study published online Nov. 4 in Pediatrics.

Ryan K. McBain, PhD, MPH, from the RAND Corporation in Boston, and colleagues compared the number of child psychiatrists per 100,000 children ages 0 to 19 years between 2007 and 2016 by state and county using data from the Area Health Resource Files.

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The researchers noted a 21.3% increase in the number of child psychiatrists in the United States from 2007 to 2016, from 6590 to 7991. Per 100,000 children, the number of child psychiatrists increased 21.7%, from 8.01 to 9.75. There was wide variation in county- and state-level growth; a decrease in the ratio of child psychiatrists was seen in six states, while increases by >50% were seen in six states. In both 2007 and 2016, 70% of counties had no child psychiatrists. The likelihood of having a practicing child psychiatrist was increased in high-income counties, counties with higher levels of postsecondary education levels, and metropolitan counties compared with those adjacent to metropolitan regions.

“Our findings suggest that more structural community features, such as average wealth and education, are closely tied to the level of child psychiatrists; as such, broader policies that influence educational and economic opportunity may be required,” the authors write.

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