Family Adverse Experiences and Psychotropic Polypharmacy Among US Youth: 2009-2015.


To determine if adverse family factors are associated with a higher likelihood of psychotropic polypharmacy among US youth with a mental health condition.The 2009-2015 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data were used to identify family characteristics of 5136 youth aged ≤18 years with an emotional or behavioral health condition. Family adversity was based on family size, number of parents in the household, parental education and income, and parent-reported physical and/or cognitive or mental health disability. Cluster analysis identified family adversity subgroups. Polypharmacy was defined as 3 or more psychotropic classes (eg, stimulants, antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and sedatives) in at least 1 interview round in a calendar year. Weighted logistic regression evaluated associations between family adversity and psychotropic polypharmacy among youth.Nearly half (47.8%) of youth lived with parents who had a disability. Parents in the least socioeconomically disadvantaged cluster mainly had a mental illness, and 94% of parents in the most socioeconomically disadvantaged cluster had a parent-reported physical and/or cognitive disability and mental illness. Among youth, mood disorder (24.2%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 12.6%-16.0%), antidepressant use (16.0%; 95% CI: 10.6%-21.5%), and antipsychotic use (7.5%; 95% CI: 5.4%-9.6%) were higher in the most socioeconomically disadvantaged cluster relative to the other clusters. Approximately 3% of youth received psychotropic polypharmacy. The odds of psychotropic polypharmacy were 2.7 (95% CI: 1.1-6.4) times greater among youth in the most relative to the least socioeconomically disadvantaged cluster.Higher use of psychotropic polypharmacy among youth with parents who have multiple disabilities raises concerns about oversight and monitoring of complex psychotropic treatment.

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