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Psychiatr Serv. 2001 Aug;52(8):1081-7.

Prescription of psychotropic medications to youths in office-based practice.

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  • 1Division of Epidemiology, Columbia University School of Public Healthm New York, NY 10032, USA.



This study sought to determine sociodemographic characteristics of treatment of children and adolescents for whom psychotropic medications are prescribed and to describe the clinical management approaches associated with the prescription of each major class of psychotropic medication in office-based medical practices in the United States.


Data for a four-year period (1992-1996) were drawn from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, a nationally representative survey of office-based medical practices, to determine prescribing patterns, patients' sociodemographic characteristics, and clinical management approaches associated with visits during which psychotropic medications were prescribed to patients aged 19 years or under.


Psychotropic medications were prescribed during 2.2 percent of all visits. A majority of the prescriptions for psychotropic medications (84.8 percent) were provided by general practitioners or pediatricians. For the visits during which a psychotropic medication was prescribed, stimulants were the most commonly prescribed (53.9 percent of such visits), but prescription of other classes of medications was not uncommon: antidepressants (30 percent), anxiolytics (7.2 percent), antipsychotics (7.2 percent), and mood stabilizers (12.7 percent). Significant differences were observed in the prescription of each class of medication by sex, race, and payment source.


General practitioners and pediatricians have a role in the office-based treatment of youths with psychotropic medications.

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