Data lacking on psychiatric drugs for kids
From the Public Affairs Office, American Psychological Association
A new report from the American Psychological Association (APA), led by Ronald Brown, Ph.D., dean of the College of Health Professions, is sounding the alarm on children’s treatment for mental illness. Gaps in scientific knowledge about which treatments work best, a lack of clinicians trained to work with children, cuts in Medicaid funding and poor reimbursement for mental health services is leading to many children being treated with medication despite limited effectiveness and safety.
Brown chaired the APA working group that produced this report.
“These findings are in part related to our healthcare system’s failure to provide sufficiently for children, particularly mental health care. As a result, much of the care for problems such as depression, anxiety and ADD has been limited to medication, even though therapy has been found to be effective and less risky,” he said.
Research published earlier this year showed a five-fold increase in the use of antipsychotic drugs to treat behavioral and emotional problems in children and adolescents from 1993 to 2002.
The working group’s report identifies and calls attention to several “notable gaps” in the knowledge base upon which psychotropics are currently being prescribed, including anti-depressants and anti-psychotics. The report also notes that existing evidence for both psychosocial and psychopharmacological treatments are “uneven across disorders, age groups, and other defining characteristics of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.”
“Furthermore,” the report states, “data are lacking concerning the long-term effects of the majority of treatments, both psychosocial and psychopharmacological, as well as their effects on functional outcomes” such as academic achievement and peer relationships.
Finally, the report notes that the lack of availability of all pharmaceutical data on psychotropics and their effects prevents the news media and the public from a full understanding of which treatments work, which do not, and the possible adverse side effects of some medications.
The working group recommended that decisions about treatment be guided by the need to balance the possible benefits of the treatment with its possible harms, including the absence of treatment.
Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office or at http://www.apa.org/releases/PsychotropicMedicationsReport.pdf
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