To evaluate whether admission on weekends affects the length of stay (LOS) for patients hospitalized with somatic symptom and related disorders (SSRDs).
Data from 2012–2018 was obtained for all patients aged 4 to 21 years (N = 5459) with a primary discharge diagnosis of SSRDs from 52 tertiary care pediatric hospitals in the United States. We obtained patient demographics, admission date and/or time, LOS, procedure count, and comorbid conditions. We defined a weekend as 3 pm Friday to 3 pm Sunday. The Wilcoxon rank test was used for unadjusted analysis. Multiple logistic regression was used to estimate the odds of having LOS >1 day, >2 days, >3 days, and >4 days in weekend versus weekday groups.
Weekend admission significantly correlated with increased LOS (P < .001). Compared with weekdays, a weekend admission was associated with increased odds of having LOS >1, >2, and >3 days. This remained statistically significant while adjusting for the number of chronic conditions, procedures, and individuals with Black or Hispanic ethnicity compared with White ethnicity. LOS was not associated with sex or age of the patients.
Patients with SSRDs admitted on the weekend have an increased LOS compared with those admitted on a weekday. This may be due to a decrease in multidisciplinary care available during weekends. In future studies, researchers should aim to better understand the specific factors that contribute to this disparity and test interventions that may close the gap in care, including expanding to 7-day services, increasing mental health resources, and working to decrease the need for inpatient admissions.