Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Karen T. Carlson


Social Work


Every year in the United States more children are receiving psychotropic medication to deal with mood and behavior interruptions. In fact, more children in the United States are being prescribed these medications than any other country in the world. Even though the long-term consequences of these medications are yet unknown, medical professionals are still prescribing them to children, an age demographic they were not originally approved for, and for longer periods of time than intended. The purpose of this study was to explore social workers’ attitudes about the use of psychotropic drugs on children and adolescents, paying particular attention to the influence past legislation has had on prescription increases, social workers’ perceptions of the harms and benefits associated with medicating youth, and their identified theoretical orientations. Using a quantitative design, 43 social workers registered with the Minnesota Board of Social Workers completed the survey which consisted of eight general information questions and 14 questions from the Social Workers’ General Attitudes about Use of Psychotropic Medication with Youths scale created by Moses and Kirk (2006). Data was analyzed using SPSS to find univariate descriptive and bivariate inferential statistics. The findings from this study were consistent with current research, that social workers view psychotropic drug use on children and adolescents as both beneficial and harmful and helpful, but not necessary. However, unlike existing research, this study lacked a statistically significant relationship between social workers’ theoretical orientation and their attitudes toward medicating youth. This study calls for more extensive research on child psychopharmacology and more attention and emphasis on psychopharmacology in social work educational settings.

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