Parental Attitudes Toward Use of Ketamine in Adolescent Mood Disorders and Suicidality

In this survey study (n=283) parents were asked for their perceptions on using ketamine to treat adolescents mood disorders and suicidality. Most participants had positive attitudes towards using ketamine for suicidality, major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder in adolescents. Participants raised concerns about potential side effects and lack of FDA approval.

Abstract

Objectives: Investigation into parental decision-making processes involving ketamine is of high priority, given the necessary role of parents in consenting to treatment. In this study, we examined parental attitudes toward the emerging use of ketamine in adolescent mood disorders and suicidality. 

Methods: Two hundred eighty-three English-speaking parents completed an online survey using Amazon Mechanical Turk on psychiatric use of ketamine, acceptability of treatment, and their perceptions of ketamine treatment. Data quality control measures were used to mitigate invalid reporting. 

Results: Parents reported high acceptability toward use of ketamine for suicidality, major depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder in adolescents. Primary concerns around ketamine involved its potential side effects and lack of United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Responses indicated a preference for short-term applications and less invasive routes of administration for ketamine. Parent history of mental illness, familiarity with psychological treatments, and comfort using other mental health interventions in their children predicted greater acceptability of ketamine. 

Conclusion: Although ketamine is not currently approved by the FDA for psychiatric use in children nor recommended outside of research protocols, these findings suggest that parents have interest in the application of ketamine as a treatment for pediatric mood disorders and point to future directions for research and clinical orientation.”

Authors: David S Mathai, Alexis G McCathern, Andrew G Guzick, Sophie C Schneider, Saira A Weinzimmer, Sandra L Cepeda, Albert Garcia-Romeu & Eric A Storch

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