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Outpatient Psychotropic Medication Use in the US: A Comparison Based on Foster Care Status

Lynn A. Warner, Na Kyoung Song and Kathleen J. Pottick

Journal of Child and Family Studies
December 2013
Using data from the Client/Patient Sample Survey, a nationally representative study of outpatient mental health service utilization, the prevalence and correlates of psychotropic medication receipt for youth who live with families and in foster care are compared. The medication rate is similar for both groups, with slightly more than one-third of youth treated with medication. Additionally, when medication is prescribed, it is the sole intervention provided for close to one half of each group, and the distribution of other services received (such as clinical case management and collateral services) is similar, regardless of living situation. However, the predictors of medication use differ for the two groups. Among foster care youth, only presenting problems of depressed mood, being withdrawn, and suicidality significantly increase the odds of medication; among youth with families, sociodemographic characteristics (male gender), and a range of clinical factors (disruptive behavior disorder, presenting problems of hyperactivity and sleep disturbance, prior mental health service receipt, and inpatient or residential care referral sources) increase the likelihood of medication. The conclusion that distinct sets of factors predict medication for the two groups was reinforced by results of multivariate analyses; foster care status moderates the association between medication receipt and only one of the correlates examined (gender). Implications, limitations, and areas for future research are presented

Lynn A.Warner, Na Kyoung Song, Kathleen J. Pottick. (online, ahead of print, 2013). "Outpatient Psychotropic Medication Use in the US: A Comparison Based on Foster Care Status." Journal of Child and Family Studies, DOI 10.1007/s10826-013-9985-0.