The Use of Psychoactive and Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Minors in the Province of Antwerp, Belgium

Friday, May 12, 2017: 12:00 PM-1:40 PM
Golden Gate Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Hotel)
M. Dhar1,2, E. Heyde3, H. Hellemans4, E. Schoentjes5 and D. van West1,2,4, (1)Department of Clinical and Lifespan Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium, (2)Collaborative Antwerp Psychiatric Research Institute (CAPRI), University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium, (3)University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium, (4)Antwerp Hospital Network-University Center for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Antwerp, Belgium, (5)Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium
Background:  To date, particularly in European countries, relatively little is known regarding the prevalence of medication use for treatment of individuals with ASD. Previous international studies suggested that that an ever-increasing number of patients with ASD use at least one psychoactive drug. Even studies in the nineties suggested that frequent use of psychoactive medication was widespread although evidence for this assumption was limited at the time.

Objectives: The main aim of this study was to gauge the use of psychoactive medication and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the province of Antwerp, Belgium. A second aim was to investigate the relationship between medication use and ‘predisposing’, ‘enabling’, and ‘need’ factors included in the Behavioral Model of Health Service Use (Andersen, 2008).

Methods: Respondents, consisting of parents of children aged 0-17 years diagnosed with ASD, were recruited in the province of Antwerp, Belgium. All completed a Dutch translation of the Survey of Medications in persons with autism (Aman et al., 1995).

Results: Results showed that 42.6% of the children (n=263) were reported to use at least one psychoactive drug. Over 12.2% were reported to use more than one drug. ADHD medication was most frequently reported (31.6%), followed by antipsychotics (16.7%). Some form of CAM was used by 14%. There was a positive relationship between the use of medication and psychiatric comorbidity and/or epilepsy, severity of autism and housing arrangements.

Conclusions: Compared to North American studies there was a relatively low use of antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilizers and sedatives. Our findings do not provide evidence of overmedication and suggest that the use of medication in ASD in at least the studied province in Belgium is in accordance with current clinical guidelines.

See more of: Epidemiology
See more of: Epidemiology