Presentation will impact children's mental health care

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | May 09, 2014

Image with caption: Christopher Kratochvil, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics and associate vice chancellor for clinical research at UNMC.

Christopher Kratochvil, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics and associate vice chancellor for clinical research at UNMC.

Christopher Kratochvil, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics and associate vice chancellor for clinical research at UNMC, chaired the master course -- "Update on Pediatric Psychopharmacology" -- at the American Psychiatric Association's 2014 annual meeting, held last weekend in New York City.

It was the fourth year Dr. Kratochvil has chaired the master course at the event.

The discussion by Dr. Kratochvil and three other respected clinician researchers (see sidebar at right) was an overview of psychiatric medications for children, geared toward psychiatrists who primarily treat adults.

"The idea is that there are so few child psychiatrists available that we do a lot of partnering with adult psychiatrists," he said. "For the past several years, the APA has asked us to organize a daylong institute for the adult psychiatrists to help educate them on the use of medications for children."

The course gave clinicians an overview of recent trials that have examined the role of pharmacotherapies in the treatment of a variety of childhood psychiatric disorders.

"I do a lot of work with primary care clinicians as well, such as pediatricians and family practice doctors," he said. "We do training on screening, diagnosing and treating children with psychiatric disorders."

Dr. Kratochvil's efforts were applauded by UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.

"The mental and physical health of our children is, of course, of paramount importance at UNMC," Dr. Gold said. "Through his work with the APA, Dr. Kratochvil is having an impact on efforts to improve child behavioral health care not only here in Nebraska, but on a national scale."

During the event, the APA reported, Dr. Kratochvil highlighted the importance of clinicians' staying abreast of the expanding current literature to facilitate evidence-based decisions, calling this "particularly important in the field of pediatric psychopharmacology, in which the database historically has been quite limited."

"There have been a series of clinical trials published over the last 10 to 15 years sponsored by the National Institutes of Health that look at how we can best treat children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders," Dr. Kratochvil said. "The studies look at not only medications, but also talk therapies, individually as well as in combination.

"So there's a pretty large dataset that continues to develop, and one of our priorities is to share that information with the adult psychiatrist, who may be less apt to follow the pediatric literature."

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