Report on Medications and Choices

PAL, the Parent/Professional Advocacy League, and Institute for Community Health (both based in Massachusetts), have just published Medications and Choices: The Perspective of Families and Youth: What Parents and Children Tell Us about Psychiatric Medications which they call “a ground breaking, family-driven study of the decision making process families go through when they choose to use psychotropic medication to treat their child’s mental health needs.”

PAL, the Parent/Professional Advocacy League, is “an organization of parents and professionals who advocate on behalf of children with mental, emotional or behavioral special needs and their families in order to effect family empowerment and system change” founded in 1980s.

Institute for Community Health, is a collaboration of the Cambridge Health Alliance, Mt. Auburn Hospital CareGroup, and Partners Healthcare, founded in 2000 “to improve the health of Cambridge; Somerville, and surrounding cities and towns.”

The 40-pages-long report presents data from a 2006 survey of 274 parents of children who have been taking psychiatric medications and more than 80 teens.

The foreword to the report was written by Joseph Gold, MD, Chief Medical Officer at McLean Hospital, Director of the Community Child Psychiatry Services at Partners Health Care, and Medical Co-Director of the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project (MCPAP). (for unexplained reasons in the report the foreword is called “Forward,” I don’t know who and how many people proofread the report before publishing it, but someone sure goofed)

What I found especially interesting is that “Parents reported that their health insurance was more likely to cover medication than therapy for their child.” 76% of the families said that “their insurance covered all of the medication visits their child needed” but only 53% said that “their insurance also covered all of the psychotherapy visits their child needed.” It seems health insurance companies think that once you take a pill, that’s it, the problem is fixed.

I also really liked the part covering the teens’ responses to the survey and what they say about being on medication.

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