King's College London

Research portal

Factors that predict the use of psychotropics among children and adolescents with PTSD: Evidence from private insurance claims

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

R. Soria-Saucedo, J.H. Chung, H. Walter, M. Soley-Bori, L.E. Kazis

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1014
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number9
Early online date2 Jul 2018
Accepted/In press27 Apr 2018
E-pub ahead of print2 Jul 2018
Published1 Sep 2018

King's Authors


Objective: This study aimed to determine which characteristics of youths with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were associated with receiving prescriptions for antidepressants, antipsychotics, or benzodiazepines. Methods: A 2011–2012 retrospective cohort of children and adolescents with a new episode of PTSD was extracted from medical and pharmacy claims from a nationally representative sample of privately insured persons. Multivariate logistic regression assessed attributes (demographic characteristics, mental and general medical comorbidities, insurance arrangements, specialty type, and geographic location) associated with utilization of antidepressants, antipsychotics, and benzodiazepines. Results: Among 7,726 youths with a new episode of PTSD in 2012, just less than 60% received psychotherapy alone, about 6% received pharmacotherapy, and about 35% received neither psychotherapy nor pharmacotherapy. Among utilizers of medications, 71.3% used antidepressants and 21.6% used antipsychotics. Youths prescribed medication tended to be older and have more general medical and mental comorbidities. Provider specialty, capitated insurance arrangements, and more comorbidities predicted being prescribed antidepressants. History of hospitalization, noncapitated insurance arrangements, nonuse of psychotherapy, and more comorbidities predicted being prescribed antipsychotics. Antidepressants and antipsychotics were more likely to be used in the South. Conclusions: Only three-fifths of youths with PTSD received first-line treatment (psychotherapy). More than one in 20 received pharmacotherapy, which appeared to be associated with the most severe and complex presentations. More than one-third of youths with PTSD received neither therapy nor medication, signaling compromised quality of care. Future research should confirm the factors associated with pharmacotherapy prescription and explore ways to increase the use of psychotherapy in primary care.

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454