Decision-making among adolescents prescribed antipsychotic medications: Interviews to gain perspectives of youth without psychosis or mania

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Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry


OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to understand the experiences of youth who had been prescribed antipsychotics but did not have psychosis, mania, autism spectrum disorder, or developmental disability.

METHODS: Twenty-three qualitative telephone interviews were conducted with youth aged 11-18 who had been prescribed an antipsychotic medication but did not have a diagnosis of psychotic disorder, bipolar disorder, autism spectrum disorder, or developmental disability. Participants were recruited from four U.S. healthcare systems participating in the pragmatic trial Safer Use of Antipsychotics in Youth (SUAY). Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analyzed using template analysis techniques.

RESULTS: Prior to initiating an antipsychotic medication, most participants experienced behavioral health crises; many felt that they had no options other than to start the medication. Other core themes included: (1) antipsychotics had both positive psychosocial outcomes, such as improvement of family life, and adverse effects, such as drowsiness or weight gain, (2) antipsychotics were only one part of a broader treatment plan, (3) efforts were made to maximize benefits and minimize side effects through careful titration, (4) feedback from friends and family was important in the decision to continue.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings provide valuable insights into how to engage youth in conversations around the use of antipsychotics.

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ePub ahead of print