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Psychiatriki. 2011 Oct-Dec;22(4):314-9.

Psychotropic medication use in children and adolescents in an inpatient setting.

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  • 1Belgrade University, School of Medicine, Belgrade.

Abstract

Medication can be an effective part of treatment for several psychiatric disorders of childhood and adolescence but its use should be based on a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation and treatment plan. The aim of this study was to evaluate psychotropic medication use for children and adolescents treated as inpatients and to compare it with principles of rational pharmacotherapy, thus identifying possible downsides of current practices and pointing a way towards safer and more efficient practices. This is a descriptive study of prescribing trends at the Clinical Department for Children and Adolescents of the Institute of Mental Health in Belgrade, during the period from September 2009 to September 2010. Analyzed demographic data (age, gender) and the number of hospitalizations were obtained from medical histories, while diagnoses were obtained from discharge notes. Prescribed therapy was copied from medication charts. Drug dosages were analyzed as average daily doses prescribed during the hospitalization. Psychiatric diagnoses were classified according to The International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision (ICD-10). During the examined time period, 264 patients were hospitalized (61.4% males), with an average age of 11.4┬▒5.1 years. We have found that 66.3% of admitted patients were treated with pharmacotherapy in addition to other treatment modalities. There was a highly significant correlation between the age of patients and the prescribed dosage (Spearman's rho=0.360, p<0.001) as well as the number of prescribed drugs (Spearman's rho=0.405, p<0.001). The most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorders were: autism spectrum disorders (20.8%), conduct disorders(19.7%), mixed developmental disorder (14.8%), adjustment disorder (7.2%), mental retardation (7.2%),acute psychosis (4.5%), and ADHD (2.3%). The most commonly prescribed medications were antipsychotics(45.9%), followed by antidepressants (17.2%), mood stabilizers (16.1%), benzodiazepines (14.4%), and other psychotropic drugs (6.4%). The most commonly prescribed antipsychotic was risperidone, used for more than 50% of the patients treated with antipsychotics. Taken together risperidone and chlorpromazine were more than 75% of all prescribed antipsychotics. 98.4% of prescribed antidepressants belonged to the SSRIs,with sertraline and fluoxetine accounting for almost 90% of them. All prescribed dosages were in accordance with the official guidelines. This is the first survey in Serbia to document the practice of prescribing psychotropic medication in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry. Current drug-prescribing practices at the Clinical Department for Children and Adolescents of the Institute of Mental Health in Belgrade are in accordance with current practices in the United States and Europe. Not every child with symptoms of mental health problems needs pharmacological treatment; when they do, the general rule of thumb should be "start low, go slow, and taper slowly". Follow-up studies are necessary to assess the change of trends, as well as studies in different patient populations and health centers, in order to globally evaluate psychotropic medication use in children and adolescents in Serbia.

PMID:
22271844
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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