Antipsychotic treatment for youth in foster care: Perspectives on improving youths’ experiences in providing informed consent.

Cassandra Simmel, Cadence F. Bowden, Sheree Neese-Todd, Justeen Hyde, Stephen Crystal

Publication Date: 09/02/2021

The disproportionate prescribing of high-risk antipsychotic medication for youth in foster care is a significant social problem across the U.S. This qualitative study examined stakeholder perceptions of prescribing, being prescribed, or overseeing prescriptions for youth in foster care. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with clinicians, child welfare caseworkers, foster caregivers, and foster care alumni. The overall aim was to systematically explore their understanding of and experiences with the Informed Consent to treatment and shared decision-making processes related to prescribing and monitoring of antipsychotic medications for youth in foster care. Participants were recruited from around the country; data collection using structured interview or focus group guides occurred via telephone and web-based formats. This study is rooted in the lived experiences of stakeholders in addressing recent federal legislative mandates and guidelines for the oversight and co-ordination of mental health service delivery to youth in foster care. Numerous themes emerged that provide context in employing a team-based approach for youth engaged with multiple child-serving systems. Eight themes emerged that illustrate the necessary components of successfully implementing Informed Consent and shared decision-making as well as the barriers and concerns germane to this process. The findings address the nuanced complexity of and tensions with the trade-offs inherent in delivering mental health care to youth involved in foster care. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved) <strong xmlns:lang=”en”>Public Policy Relevance—Over the past decade, multiple federal and state legislative efforts were implemented to address the disproportionately high rates of high-risk antipsychotic medications for youth in foster care. As a result, mandates and guidelines were developed to initiate or improve the oversight and co-ordination of mental health services to youth in foster care. This qualitative study examines the experiences and perspectives of four key stakeholder groups in how they understand and navigate these legislative mechanisms and how mental health services—and the policies that guide them—for youth in foster care can be improved. Through the important lens of “lived experience,” vital lessons can be understood and the quality and safety of services can be improved. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)