Psychotropic polypharmacy among youths with serious emotional and behavioral disorders receiving coordinated care services
March 23, 2018 | Emily Taylor
Citation: Wu, B., Bruns, E.J., Tai, M., Lee, B.R., Raghavan, R., dosReis, S. (2018). Psychotropic polypharmacy among youths with serious emotional and behavioral disorders receiving coordinated care services. Psychiatric Services. Published online: March 15, 2018.
Objective: The study examined differences in psychotropic polypharmacy among youths with serious emotional and behavioral disorders who received coordinated care services (CCS) that used a wraparound model and a matched sample of youths who received traditional services.
Methods: A quasi-experimental design compared psychotropic polypharmacy one year before and one year after discharge from CCS. The cohort was youths with serious emotional and behavioral disorders who were enrolled in CCS from December 2009 through May 2014. The comparison group was youths with serious emotional and behavioral disorders who received outpatient mental health services during the same time. Administrative data from Medicaid, child welfare, and juvenile justice services were used. A difference-in-difference analysis with propensity score matching evaluated the CCS intervention by time effect on psychotropic polypharmacy.
Results: In both groups, most youths were male, black, and 10–18 years old, with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (54%−55%), mood disorder (39%−42%), depression (26%−27%), and bipolar disorder (25%−26%). About half of each group was taking an antipsychotic. The percentage reduction in polypharmacy from one year before CCS enrollment to one year after discharge was 28% for the CCS group and 29% for the non-CCS group, a nonsignificant difference. CCS youths excluded from the analysis had more complex mental health needs and a greater change in polypharmacy than the CCS youths who were included in the analytic sample.
Conclusions: Mental health care coordination had limited impact in reducing psychotropic polypharmacy for youths with less complex mental health needs. Further research is needed to evaluate the effect on psychotropic polypharmacy among youths with the greatest mental health needs.