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Pharmacotherapy of adolescents diagnosed with mood disorders in a usual care setting

17 April 2009


Epidemiological research suggests that adolescent depression is a significant public health concern. In recent years, the detection and treatment of depressed youth has been shifting from mental health specialty settings to primary care clinics, particularly pediatrics. As many as 40% of depressed youth are originally identified and treated in pediatric primary care. The primary aims of this study were to describe how much providers understand empirically-supported practice recommendations regarding pharmacotherapy for depressed youth, to describe providers' self-reported treatment patterns, and to describe provider characteristics that predict empirically-supported pharmacotherapy treatment of teens with depressive disorders. In this naturalistic study of adolescents receiving antidepressant medication, 74 youth were matched with 30 prescribing providers. Nearly half, 46% of the sample, received adequate pharmacotherapy according to well-established clinical guidelines for treating youth mood disorders. None of the provider factors examined predicted a youth's receipt of adequate treatment. Few factors were identified that predicted youth compliance with medication recommendations. Limitations are acknowledged and recommendations for future research are provided.


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