Psychotropic medicine prescriptions in Italian youths: a multiregional study

Daniele Piovani, Antonio Clavenna, Massimo Cartabia, Maurizio Bonati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of the study was to evaluate the trend of paediatric psychotropic drug prescriptions in Italy. Data sources were regional, outpatient prescription databases. Seven Italian regions, covering 50 % of the Italian population, provided data from 2006 to 2011. Prevalence and incidence of prescriptions by age and gender were evaluated for psychotropic, antidepressant, antipsychotic, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) medications. The hospital admission rate for psychiatric conditions was calculated, also at the local health unit (LHU) level. The presence of trends in prescription prevalence and incidence during the 6 year period was assessed. Finally, the correlation between prevalence, prescription, hospital admission rates, latitude, longitude, and average annual income at the LHU level was also investigated. In 2011, 8834 youths received at least one psychotropic drug prescription, with a prevalence of 1.76 ‰ (95 % CI 1.72–1.80). The incidence of new psychotropic drug users was 1.03 ‰ (1.00–1.06). The prevalence of antidepressants was 1.02 ‰ (0.99–1.04), while that of antipsychotics was 0.70 ‰ (0.68–0.72), and that of ADHD medications 0.19 ‰ (0.18–0.21). The psychotropic drug prevalence increased with increasing age. Males were more exposed to psychotropic drugs than females (AUC0–17 male/female = 1.23). Antipsychotics were the most prescribed psychotropic drugs in males, while antidepressants were in females. Between-region prevalence ranged from 1.56 to 2.17 ‰. The overall prevalence of psychotropic drug from 2006 to 2011 was stable ( (Formula presented.)  ≤ 0.001, p = 0.97). No correlation was found between prevalence and the variables investigated. Psychotropic drug prescription was very limited and stable. No geographical patterns were found.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-245
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Outpatients
  • Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Psychotropic drugs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Philosophy
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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