Background: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the recommended first-line pharmacotherapy for pediatric anxiety disorders but adherence remains difficult to predict.
Objectives: To estimate SSRI adherence in children with anxiety disorders and determine if prior parental medication adherence is predictive of child high SSRI adherence.
Methods: We identified children (3-17 y) initiating SSRI treatment after an anxiety disorder diagnosis in a commercial claims database (2005-2014). We evaluated parent SSRI, statin, and antihypertensive adherence [6-mo proportion days covered (PDC), high adherence=PDC≥0.80] in the year before child SSRI initiation. We estimated risk differences (RD) of child high SSRI adherence (6-mo PDC) stratified by parent adherence and multivariable risk ratios using modified Poisson regression. We estimated change in c-statistic and risk reclassification when adding parent-level covariates with child-level covariates to predict child adherence.
Results: In 70,979 children with an anxiety disorder (59%=female, 14=median age), the mean 6-month SSRI PDC was 0.72, with variation by anxiety disorder. Overall 64% of children had high adherence if their parent had high SSRI adherence versus 53% of children with parents with low SSRI adherence (RD, 12%; multivariable risk ratios, 1.17; 95% confidence interval, 1.14-1.20). Findings were similar for parent statin (RD=10%) and antihypertensive adherence (RD=8%) and when stratified by child age and parent sex. There was minor improvement in risk reclassification and the c-statistic after adding parent adherence and parent-level covariates.
Conclusions: Parental medication adherence could help providers identify children at risk of nonadherence to inform the treatment decision, reduce unnecessary medication switches, and lead to broader effective interventions.