Children and Youth Services Review, 81, 197-206
This article aims to show the psychopathology portrait of Canadian children placed in foster care (foster group homes and rehabilitation centres) receiving psychotropic medications, and to clarify their overall level of functioning. It also focuses on educators' knowledge and perceptions of psychopharmacotherapy. A group of medicated children (n = 71) was compared to a group of non-medicated children (n = 30). Children and their educators were interviewed, and an analysis of youths' institutional files was also performed. Results showed that medicated boys and girls taking one or more medications had a diagnosis of a mental disorder recorded in their files more often than non-medicated children (p < 0.05). Based on educators' perceptions, these children displayed more attention problems, social skill difficulties, aggressive behaviors, anxiety and depression symptoms, thought problems and post-traumatic stress symptoms (p < 0.05). Their overall functioning was also more disturbed in comparison to non-medicated children (p < 0.05), as were their moods, thoughts and behaviors towards others (p < 0.05). However, based on the child's perspective (semi-structured interview), no distinction can be made between medicated and non-medicated children, since both groups reported comparable levels of symptoms and diagnostic signs. At last, results of the regression model showed that post-traumatic stress symptoms and educators' favorable opinion concerning psychopharmacotherapy were significantly associated with the use of prescribed medications. Implications are discussed.