An exploratory study of features related to adolescent medication compliance: Personality factors, side effects, and substance abuse issues

Anne Lauren Lloyd, Pace University


Literature on adult psychiatric medication noncompliance revealed that risk factors frequently pertained to side effects from the medication and patient denial of illness. Little research has been conducted on medication compliance in adolescent psychiatric patients. Psychotropic medication is considered a critical intervention in the treatment of seriously disturbed adolescents, particularly in the inpatient setting. Personality characteristics, side effects, treatment noncompliance, and substance abuse were frequently reported risk factors. Four groups of six predictor variables were used to differentiate adolescent medication compliance groups, including: (I) personality constructs related to anger, impulsivity, and rule-breaking behavior, (II) reported side effects from medication, (III) negative attitude toward treatment, and (IV) reported substance abuse (alcohol, cannabis), and associated personality traits. Archival data were used to compare 161 adolescents discharged off and on medication from a private psychiatric hospital. Further, archival outcome data included following 120 adolescents, of which 103 were discharged on psychotropic medication. Post discharge follow-up interviews (30 and 120 days) provided compliance data. Discriminant function analysis determined which sets of predictor variables and individual factors differentiated the medication noncompliance groups. Data were analyzed in two parts: (1) to determine whether there were differences between adolescents discharged off and on medication, using the MMPI-A, and (2) the medication compliance study. Preliminary data indicated non-significant findings on multivariate analyses, however, univariate findings on Clinical (D, Pt, Sc, Si), Content (A-Anx, A-Obs, A-Dep, A-Lse), and a Supplementary Scale (A) of the MMPI-A differentiated between adolescents discharged off and on medication. Thus adolescents discharged on medication reported symptom patterns of the type that responds to psychotropic medication. Results of multivariate discriminant function analyses on sets I–IV were insignificant. Reported side effects, a negative attitude toward treatment, alcohol use, and personality characteristics associated with substance abuse were not significant in differentiating medication compliance groups. However, there was a univariate finding within the substance use set. Adolescents who use cannabis are more likely to be noncompliant with medication at 120 days post discharge. Personality traits associated with substance abuse were not significant predictors of adolescent medication noncompliance. Such findings have implications for school and clinical psychologists, parents, and intervention approaches. Further, these data suggest critical developmental differences in medication noncompliance between adult and adolescent psychiatric populations.

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Recommended Citation

Lloyd, Anne Lauren, "An exploratory study of features related to adolescent medication compliance: Personality factors, side effects, and substance abuse issues" (2001). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9991634.



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