Initiation and change of psychotropic medication regimens among adolescents in inpatient care

Lynn A. Warner, Cynthia A. Fontanella, Kathleen J. Pottick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare clinical and service utilization profiles of adolescents admitted to inpatient treatment with and without a psychotropic medication regimen, and estimate correlates of medication use separately for the two groups. Method: Comprehensive data on clinical characteristics and service utilization of 517 adolescents enrolled in Medicaid who were admitted to three inpatient hospitals (one for-profit and two nonprofit) in a mid-Atlantic state were used. Medication correlates were examined with bivariate statistics (chi-square and t-test) and multivariate logistic regressions. Results: Psychotropic medication was prescribed for the majority (90.5%) of adolescents at discharge. During their inpatient stay, 76.3% of the youths who were not on medication at admission (n = 190) initiated medication use, and 45% admitted with prior medication (n = 327) had a medication change. Adolescents admitted with and without medication differed on all sociodemographic and clinical characteristics except age, suicidality, and hospital. Controlling on demographic, clinical, and service history characteristics, hospital setting was the only correlate significantly associated with both initiation and change. Conclusions: Institutional factors may be more important than clinical factors in appraising medication patterns in inpatient settings. Interventions to ensure the development and implementation of medication management guidelines may need to be tailored to the climate and culture of the provider organization as well as directly to individual practitioners, parents or adolescents themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)701-712
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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