Parental attitudes toward children's use of antidepressants and psychotherapy

Jack Stevens, Wei Wang, Ling Fan, Michael C. Edwards, John V. Campo, William Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Objective:Weassessed parental perceptions of benefits and risks of pediatric antidepressant use relative to another commontreatment option, psychotherapy.Wealso explored sociodemographic and treatment variables that might influence these perceptions.Method: A total of 501 caregivers of children presenting to community mental health centers completed a questionnaire assessing demographic characteristics, treatment history, and attitudes toward psychotherapy and antidepressant medications.Results: Counseling was perceived as beneficial and having few risks, whereas antidepressant medications were perceived as both beneficial and risky. Fifty two percent of parents believed "somewhat'' to "strongly'' that antidepressants could make children want to harm themselves. African-American parents had less favorable views of antidepressants relative to parents of other ethnicities. Parental perceptions of benefits and risks of antidepressants predicted future medication visits, but only benefits predicted when controlling for other variables. A slight majority of all parents expected their children to see the physician at least every few weeks if prescribed an antidepressant.Conclusions: When educating parents about medication, prescribers should be aware that African American parentsmayholdmore negative perceptions than other parents, and that many caregiversmayexpect a higher level of physician monitoring of pediatric antidepressant use than is available in most communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-296
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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