Prescription of psychotropics to children in office-based practice

Am J Dis Child. 1989 Jul;143(7):855-9. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.1989.02150190105033.


Multiple authors have stressed the need for close follow-up and simultaneous psychotherapy in most children treated with psychotropic drugs. However, little is known about the actual prescription of psychotropic medications in pediatric settings. Using the 1985 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, we investigated the frequency of follow-up arrangements and concurrent psychotherapy among US children in visits to office-based practices. We then explored determinants of psychotropic drug prescriptions. Mental health indicators, sociodemographic characteristics, provider type, and provider familiarity with the patient were important predictors of psychotropic prescriptions. Few providers report referral or concurrent psychotherapy for their patients receiving psychotropics, and follow-up plans were no different for children with or without psychotropics after controlling for other variables. This means that many children in outpatient care who are taking psychotropic medications may not be receiving optimal management for behavioral or emotional problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Ambulatory Care*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Utilization
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Internal Medicine
  • Male
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use*


  • Psychotropic Drugs