Characteristics Associated with Drug Prescription and Compliance Among Children with Autism in South Israel.
Objectives: To study the characteristics associated with medical drugs prescription and compliance among people with autism.
Methods: We studied the characteristics associated with medical drugs prescription and compliance in a population-based sample of children between ages 1-6 years who were diagnosed and followed at the Preschool Psychiatric Unit at the Soroka University Medical Center between the years 2006-2013. Autism diagnosis was determined using DSM-IV and re-confirmed using DSM-V criteria. Data about drug prescription and compliance was acquired from the electronic records of these patients. Drug compliance was calculated as the percentage of purchased drugs out of total prescriptions, and was divided into three categories: 0-49% - no compliance; 50-74% - partial compliance; and 75-100% full compliance.
Results: Of the 211 children in our sample, 50 (23.7%) received one prescription, 19 (9.0%) received two prescriptions, and six children (2.8%) received prescriptions to three or more drugs. The most prevalent prescription in our sample was to atypical antipsychotic drugs (49 children; 23.2%), followed by stimulants (28 children; 13.2%) and old generation antipsychotic drugs (16 children; 7.6%). Drug prescription was positively correlated with autism severity, and was associated with the ethnicity of the child and the type of comorbidities (P<0.001). Compliance to drug prescription was slightly higher among Bedouin than in Jewish children (P – 0.039), and was intriguingly low for stimulants (61%) compared to other drugs (P = 0.05). There was no association between drug compliance and autism severity in our sample.
Conclusions: Our preliminary finding suggest that prescription and compliance to medical drugs among children with autism are associated with various clinical and cultural characteristics which should be considered by physicians as part of the general treatment planning.