A Scoping Review of Medications Studied in Pediatric Polypharmacy Research

Alexis E. Horace, Negar Golchin, Elia M.Pestana Knight, Neal V. Dawson, Xuan Ma, James A. Feinstein, Hannah K. Johnson, Lawrence Kleinman, Paul M. Bakaki

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to describe medications most commonly studied in pediatric polypharmacy research by pharmacologic classes and disease using a scoping review methodology. Methods: A search of electronic databases was conducted in July 2019 that included Ovid Medline, PubMed, Elsevier Embase, and EBSCO CINAHL. Primary observational studies were selected if they evaluated polypharmacy as an aim, outcome, predictor, or covariate in children 0–21 years of age. Studies not differentiating between adults and children or those not written in English were excluded. Study characteristics, pharmacologic categories, medication classes, and medications were extracted from the included studies. Results: The search identified 8790 titles and after de-duplicating and full-text screening, 414 studies were extracted for the primary data. Regarding global pharmacologic categories, central nervous system (CNS) agents were most studied (n = 185, 44.9%). The most reported pharmacologic category was the anticonvulsants (n = 250, 60.4%), with valproic acid (n = 129), carbamazepine (n = 123), phenobarbital (n = 87), and phenytoin (n = 83) being the medications most commonly studied. In studies that reported medication classes (n = 105), serotonin reuptake inhibitors (n = 32, 30.5%), CNS stimulants (n = 30, 28.6%), and mood stabilizers (n = 27, 25.7%) were the most studied medication classes. Conclusion: While characterizing the literature on pediatric polypharmacy in terms of the types of medication studied, we further identified substantive gaps within this literature outside of epilepsy and psychiatric disorders. Medications frequently identified in use of polypharmacy for treatment of epilepsy and psychiatric disorders reveal opportunities for enhanced medication management in pediatric patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
JournalPaediatric Drugs
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


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