The “other” effects of psychotropic medication: Social workers’ perspectives on the psychosocial effects of medication treatment on adolescent clientsedit
This study explores social workers’ perspectives on the psychosocial effects of psychotropic drug treatment of their adolescent clients. Using a mail survey, we asked a national sample of experienced clinical social workers to answer questions about their perceptions of the effects of such treatment on the sense of self and social well-being of an adolescent client. The survey questions also explored associations between perceived psychosocial medication effects and characteristics of the client and the treatment. The findings suggested that social workers viewed medication treatment as having greater beneficial than harmful psychosocial effects on their adolescent clients, but that both effects existed simultaneously. The most important factors associated with the perceived effects of medication that emerged from social workers’ reports included the etiology of the disorder, the type of drug treatment and its effectiveness in addressing symptoms, the client’s “competence,” and the quality of the relationship between the client and the treating social worker. This study provides direction for future research on a neglected but important question. It would be helpful to broaden the scope of professional discourse on the advantages and disadvantages of psychopharmacologic treatment for youth beyond the effectiveness or safety of the treatment to include questions concerning clinicians’ perceptions of the effects of drug treatment on youths’ sense of self and social well-being.