Receipt of guideline-concordant pharmacotherapy among children with new diagnoses of bipolar disorder

Stacie B. Dusetzina, Bradley N. Gaynes, Morris Weinberger, Joel F. Farley, Betsy Sleath, Richard A. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: This study examined the extent to which children with bipolar I disorder received recommended treatment of mood-stabilizer or second-generation antipsychotic monotherapy and factors associated with its receipt. Methods: Administrative claims data collected from January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2007, were used to construct a cohort of 412 privately insured children with bipolar I disorder. The primary outcome measure was the receipt of mood-stabilizer or second-generation antipsychotic monotherapy within 90 days of an index diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Results: Only 82 (20%) children received recommended first-line treatment for bipolar I disorder within 90 days of the index diagnosis, and 130 (32%) received no psychotropic medications. Of children receiving any medications, 200 (71%) received nonrecommended pharmacotherapy, most commonly antidepressant monotherapy (N=67, 24%) and combination pharmacotherapy (N=51, 18%). Youths who had been treated by a psychiatrist on the day of or 180 days before the fill date of medication were more likely to receive guideline-recommended care (risk ratio [RR]=1.64, 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.10-2.45) and to receive any psychotropic medications (RR=1.13, CI=1.02-1.24). Nevertheless, only 51 of the 209 (24%) children who visited a psychiatrist and 31 of the 203 (15%) who visited a nonpsychiatrist received recommended pharmacotherapy. Conclusions: This study highlights significant gaps in the treatment of pediatric bipolar disorder. Most children in this sample received either no medications or nonrecommended pharmacotherapies. Additional research is needed to further assess factors related to the nonuse of recommended psychotropic medications and to the persistent use of nonrecommended pharmacotherapies for children with bipolar disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1443-1449
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011


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