Drug Prescribing in Child and Adolescent Eating Disorder Services
Article first published online: 9 JUL 2009
© 2009 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Volume 15, Issue 1, pages 18–22, February 2010
How to Cite
Gowers, S., Claxton, M., Rowlands, L., Inbasagaran, A., Wood, D., Yi, I., Hugo, P., Clark-Stone, S., Bryant-Waugh, R., Nicholls, D. and Ayton, A. (2010), Drug Prescribing in Child and Adolescent Eating Disorder Services. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 15: 18–22. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-3588.2009.00535.x
- Issue published online: 4 JAN 2010
- Article first published online: 9 JUL 2009
- eating disorders;
- anorexia nervosa;
Background: Psychotropic drugs are not recommended for child and adolescent eating disorders, though they are used empirically for symptomatic treatment and co-morbid conditions. Little is known about rates of prescribing or the beneficial and adverse effects.
Objective: To ascertain rates and outcomes of psychotropic drug prescribing in child and adolescent eating disorder services.
Method: Retrospective case note study of eating disorder cases (n = 308), seen in one year in seven specialist UK services, covering indications, response to treatment, beneficial and adverse effects.
Results: Drugs were prescribed for 27%, (mainly anorexia nervosa), 12% before referral to specialist services. The most commonly prescribed drugs were fluoxetine and olanzapine, but 26 different drugs were used. The most common indications were depression, anxiety and ‘pseudo-psychotic’ concerns about weight. Drugs were generally well tolerated, but their effectiveness was uncertain.
Conclusions: Non-specialists commonly prescribe psychotropic medication to this vulnerable group without reference to specialist services. Specialists prescribe regularly on empirical grounds, without apparent undue consequences, though these may be under-reported. A prospective clinical trial would further clarify risks and benefits.