All child and adolescent psychiatrists and community paediatricians in the former Trent Region were surveyed about their antipsychotic prescribing practice during 1 year, including monitoring, and whether they would like consensus guidelines on prescribing and monitoring of antipsychotics in children and adolescents.
The majority (88%) of child psychiatrists and 33% of paediatricians had prescribed atypical antipsychotics, most commonly risperidone. Only two psychiatrists had prescribed a typical antipsychotic and no paediatrician had done so. Challenging behaviour in developmental disorders was the most common indication for atypicals. Both child psychiatrists and paediatricians prescribed atypicals for non-psychotic developmental disorders, whereas prescribing for psychosis occurred almost exclusively among psychiatrists. Height, weight and blood pressure were routinely monitored, but waist circumference was rarely measured and there was wide variation in the monitoring of other parameters such as blood glucose, prolactin and extrapyramidal side-effects. Three-quarters of the participants felt there was a need for guidance on prescribing and monitoring atypical antipsychotic therapy.
The greater prescription of antipsychotics by child and adolescent psychiatrists may reflect differences in case-load and training. Routine monitoring of adverse effects is inconsistent among prescribers. The survey highlights the need for training and guidance on prescribing and monitoring of atypical antipsychotic use in children and adolescents.
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