Multiple Psychotropic Medications Usage Among Adolescents


This article attempts to evaluate the prevalence of and risk factors associated with the overuse of psychotropic medications among children living under foster care services. These authors examine pediatric psychopharmacology practices that contribute to increased prescription of psychotropic medication among children.

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Research problem

The authors are concerned with the increased use of psychotropic drugs among children for the past decade. The authors show that evidence is mounting to suggest that children in foster care are highly targeted for over-prescription as opposed to children living in mainstream society. This article suggests that the appropriate use of psychotropic medication must meet the criteria and standards issued by the drug regulatory board for a certain region.

Meanwhile, studies suggest that many drug companies are profit-driven leading to over-prescription of psychotropic medications (Raghavan & McMillen, 2008). The problem statement is consistent with the topic. The problem is very clear and visible to the readers, and it requires a few readings to establish why the researchers felt this study was necessary.

Research questions

The research questions sought to identify the kind of medications that were overprescribed. Why were the drugs administered and the criteria for a prescription? What were the short-term effects of prescription? The questions posed by the researchers were clear and concise and blended well with the title. However, the questions were limited to respondents’ ability to answer as well as the researchers’ capabilities and resources.


The study sought to determine the rate of administering psychotropic medications and the risk factors for administering these drugs particularly to children under foster care. To meet this objective, the authors conducted face-to-face interviews involving 406 children aged between 12-17 years. The target population was living under foster care. The results suggested overuse of psychotropic drugs with more than 10% of the respondents reporting that they had taken three or more psychotropic drugs (Raghavan & McMillen, 2008).

Evaluation of the research methods

The authors conducted an extensive literature review to gather evidence-based data. Much of the review originated from the administrative claims data and peer-reviewed articles. Washington University’s institutional review board approved the study. These reviews greatly contributed to the comprehension of the subject and addressing the research problem.

The relevance of the research to today’s existing health issues

The research is current and valid since it addresses issues that deal with a patient population that has become vulnerable to unscrupulous and over-prescription of psychotic drugs. The young population is susceptible to emotional and psychological requirements emanating from the environment they live (Hieber, 2013). For instance, most children who end up in foster care services are victims of family violence, neglect, and poverty.

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This caregiving environment is linked to post-traumatic stress that can lead to mental disorders. However, these facts do not necessarily guarantee the prescription of psychotropic drugs. Many drug companies have liaised with prescribers to overprescribe psychotropic drugs with the motive of making a profit. However, this article is timely and precise since it provides an insight into the prevalence of medication overuse and states some side effects associated with over-prescription.

Description of the research type used

The researchers employed the non-experimental research. The researchers relied on observation, interactions, and interpretation of findings to conclude. This is because the research goal did not entail a causal statistical relationship between variables. The research focused on a single variable to establish the prevalence and risk factors associated with the overuse of psychotropic drugs.

Evaluation of the sample (size, composition, or in the way the sample was selected about the purpose of the study? Was the sample appropriate for the research or was it bias?

The research covered a reasonable sample size of 406 participants. The sample size included boys and girls aged 12-17 years. Besides, the sample size involved participants from different ethnicity, social class, and religion. However, 403 adolescents were able to complete the exercise. The report was unbiased because it incorporated respondents who had reported the use of psychotropic drugs as well as those who reported having not used these drugs. The target population was recruited from eight counties in a Mid-western state. This suggests that the information obtained was a representation of wide coverage hence increasing its reliability.

How practically does this work seem to you? How does the author suggest research results could be applied and how do you believe they could be applied?

According to Alavi and Calleja (2012), the field of psychotropic prescription among children suffers the lack of congruent evidence. The issue is exacerbated by the failure to make precise decisions towards reliable and sustainable psychiatric therapy among children. The study is practicable since it links these gaps by providing information that reveals that young children are overprescribed and are at risk of developing mental complexities. The author suggests that research results can be spread through educational campaigns to create awareness for the children, families, and health regulatory bodies. I support the claim that enhancing the quality of mental health care relies on sensitization to promote proper decision-making when selecting mental health care services.

Could the study have been improved in your opinion? If so, provide how you think it could have improved

The study could have been improved to fill some gaps that are present in the current work. Even though the literature review was thorough, the authors failed to use a wider variety of resources since this topic has been deeply researched in the past. Furthermore, much of the details utilized emanate from administrative claims data that lacks enough details regarding the current topic. Nonetheless, the writing in the article is clear and precise. The author presents the analysis simply and understandably.

Further research

Due to the need for evidence-based data on psychiatric conditions, further research is needed to provide guidelines for establishing accurate assessment procedures. These authors have failed to offer suggestions on how to reduce the rate of over-prescription by the use of proper assessment tools. Furthermore, this author does not identify the exact benefits or risks associated with the overuse of certain drugs. Psychotropic drugs are very useful when used wisely to manage psychiatric conditions among children (Longhofer, Floersch, & Okpych, 2011). However, this research indicates that the risks outweigh the benefits, particularly when overprescribed. This pattern is disturbing given that little information is available concerning the long-term consequences of using psychotropic medications.


The author has done good research to show how over-prescription has prevailed despite the persisting dissemination of child care education awareness. However, progress in this field will be achieved if the involved stakeholders become more sensitized and form collaborations to ensure only evidence-based practices prevail.

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Alavi, Z. & Calleja, G. (2012). Understanding the Use of Psychotropic Medications in the Child Welfare System: Causes, Consequences, and Proposed Solutions. Child Welfare, 91(2), 77-94.

Hieber, R. (2013). Toolbox: Psychotropic Medications Approved in Children and Adolescents. Mental Health Clinician, 2(11), 344-346.

Longhofer, J., Floersch, J., & Okpych, N. (2011). Foster youth and psychotropic treatment: Where next?. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(2), 395-404.

Raghavan, R. & McMillen, J. (2008). Use of Multiple Psychotropic Medications Among Adolescents Aging Out of Foster Care. Psychiatric Services, 59(9), 1052-1055.

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