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J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2005 Feb;15(1):57-61.

Current prescribing patterns in outpatient child and adolescent psychiatric practice in central New York.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York 13210, USA.



The aim of this study was to evaluate current prescribing patterns of outpatient child psychiatrists in central New York.


Data were drawn from all active files of 1- to 18-year-olds (n = 1292) at eight outpatient treatment locations in central New York on one day in 2002. Age, race, gender, diagnoses, current medications, and doses were recorded. Data was tabulated and analyzed to discern prescribing frequencies and patterns.


74% (956 of 1292) of all patients received psychotropic medication, and 50% of these patients (478 of 956) received two or more medications. The most commonly prescribed medications were stimulants, antidepressants, antipsychotics, alpha-agonists, and "mood stabilizer" anticonvulsants. The most frequent diagnoses were attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, other disruptive behavior disorders, anxiety disorders, and depressive disorders. Of those youths who received an antipsychotic medication, 77% did not have a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder.


Psychotropic prescribing frequency in outpatient child psychiatry continues to increase, with a substantial majority of youth in psychiatric treatment receiving medication. Stimulants, antidepressants, and antipsychotics have led the way, as in prior studies. Co-prescribing represents a substantial, and growing, proportion of prescribing practice. Antipsychotics are frequently prescribed for nonpsychotic conditions.

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