Antipsychotics are frequently prescribed to children and adolescents for nonpsychotic indications. Guidelines recommend regularly assessing treatment response and adverse effects and the ongoing need for their use. We aimed to assess adherence to recommendations of available guidelines regarding monitoring antipsychotic use and to test the influence of children's age, sex, intelligence quotient, and diagnosis on adherence. Methods
We reviewed 426 medical records from 26 centers within 3 large Dutch child and adolescent psychiatry organizations, excluding children with schizophrenia, psychosis, mania, or an intelligence quotient below 70. We investigated whether there was regular assessment of treatment response, adverse events (physical and laboratory), and at least annual discussion of the need of continued use. Results
On average, treatment response was assessed in 69.3% of the recommended treatment periods, height in 25.6%, weight in 30.6%, blood pressure in 20.6%, evaluation of adverse events in 19.4%, and cardiometabolic measures in 13.7%; discontinuation and/or continued need was discussed at least annually in 36.2%. Extrapyramidal and prolactin-related adverse effects, waist circumference, glucose, and lipids were rarely investigated. Higher age was associated with lower rates of assessment of treatment response. Most antipsychotics were prescribed long-term. In those children with sufficient documentation of the course of treatment, 57.7% was still using an antipsychotic 3 years after initiation. Conclusions
Our findings indicate insufficient adherence to guideline recommendations for monitoring antipsychotic use in children and adolescents, as well as long duration of use in the majority of children. Especially, older children are at higher risk of receiving suboptimal care.