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Can J Psychiatry. 2013 Jun;58(6):361-9.

A population-based study of antipsychotic prescription trends in children and adolescents in British Columbia, from 1996 to 2011.

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University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


in English, French


To establish prevalence rates of antipsychotic (AP) prescriptions for children 18 years of age or younger in British Columbia (BC) from 1996 to 2011 by age, sex, AP type, and primary diagnosis; and to identify the predominant AP prescribers for children by specialty training.


BC Ministry of Health administrative data were used to describe AP prescriptions for youth aged 18 years or younger. Comparisons were made using population prevalence based on sex; age group; AP; International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, diagnosis; and prescriber specialty.


From 1996 to 2011, overall AP (both first and second generation) prescription prevalence rate increased 3.8-fold (1.66 to 6.37 per 1000 population); second-generation AP (SGA) prescriptions increased 18.1-fold (0.33 to 5.98 per 1000 population). The highest increase in all AP prescriptions occurred in males aged 13 to 18 years (3.3 to 14.4 per 1000 population; 4.4-fold), followed by similar increases in males aged 6 to 12 years (2.3 to 8.6 per 1000 population; 3.7-fold) and in females aged 13 to 18 years (2.8 to 10.7 per 1000 population; 3.8-fold). Overall, the 3 most common diagnoses associated with all AP prescriptions were depressive disorders (12.8%), hyperkinetic syndrome of childhood (11.7%), and neurotic disorders (11.1%); however, variation was observed by prescriber specialty training. Among all new AP prescriptions in 2010/11, 38.6%, 34.3%, and 15.6% were provided by psychiatrists, family physicians, and pediatricians, respectively.


There has been an exponential rise in SGA prescriptions in BC secondary to extensive off-label use, not only by psychiatrists but also by family physicians and pediatricians. Knowledge translation initiatives promoting evidence-based prescribing and monitoring practices related to SGA treatment need to target all 3 prescriber groups and be tailored for age subgroups.


adolescents; antipsychotics; children; prescribing

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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