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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2004 May;61(5):475-80.

Quality of care for medicaid-covered youth treated with antidepressant therapy.

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  • 1Child Health Institute and Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.



Although antidepressant use has increased in pediatric populations, few studies have addressed the quality of follow-up care or duration of treatment for depressed youth.


To evaluate the quality of care for antidepressant-treated youth, using the Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set guidelines (>or=3 visits in the 3 months after a new antidepressant prescription fill and continuation of antidepressant use at 3 and 6 months) as a benchmark.


Administrative records were examined for 1205 Medicaid-covered youth (aged 5-18 years) who presented with a "new episode" of depression in 1998. Statistics were generated to describe the number of follow-up visits and duration of treatment within 6 months of first prescription fill.


A total of 507 (42.1%) youth with new episodes of depression were treated with antidepressants. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors accounted for 80.9% of prescriptions. Twenty-eight percent (28.1%) of youth with an antidepressant fill had 3 or more follow-up visits in the subsequent 3 months; however, an additional 29.2% had no further provider visits. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors were continued by 46.6% of treated youth at 3 months and by 26.3% at 6 months.


Many antidepressant-treated youth do not receive adequate follow-up or duration of treatment. Future studies should address reasons for poor follow-up and methods to improve monitoring for these youth.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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