Sources of data for pharmacoepidemiological studies of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders

Julie Magno Zito, Daniel J. Safer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


In view of the dramatic shift to managed care models for United States health care delivery, reliable information on the prevalence and variations in psychopharmacological drug therapies for youth in community practice settings is essential. Pharmacoepidemiology, the study of medication use in large populations, aims to accomplish that challenging task. This article offers child psychopharmacologists a brief introduction to data sources for pharmacoepidemiology. Knowledge of these data sources combined with epidemiological methods for data analysis is a beginning step to assess the psychotropic medication prescribing patterns of community physicians. This review is organized in the following sequence: (1) characteristics of the 'usual practice environment' according to setting, patient population, and physician characteristics; (2) validity issues related to data sources and their potential for outcomes research; (3) data sources divided into primary and secondary types that are described in terms of their features, advantages, and limitations, followed by examples of selected applied studies using such information; (4) procedures for analyzing secondary data; (5) data analytic and longitudinal approaches; and (6) access, confidentiality, and funding. A goal for future investigators in this emerging field is to develop applied research that is clinically sophisticated, methodologically sound, and public health-minded.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-253
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of child and adolescent psychopharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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