Adolescents and Antidepressants: Analyzing a Social Scientific Controversy

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2007-02-19

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This thesis analyzes the scientific controversy over giving antidepressant medications to adolescents as it unfolded in a U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hearing. Using the FDA hearing held on February 2, 2004, convened in response to a "crisis" evolving around the safety of antidepressant use among adolescents, this paper analyzes the unfolding response. This study utilizes social world's analysis, a qualitative methods approach designed to uncover the multiple stakes and claims of the problem as understood by each person at the hearing. I identified four distinct social worlds: 1) Adolescents, family and friends, 2) Independent professionals, 3) FDA, and 4) FDA-summoned professionals. Findings revealed that 103 actors came together around the crisis and each defined the problem of the controversy through one or more of the following four distinct frames; (1) side effects, (2) data, (3) practices and policies and/or (4) a lack of access to informed choice.

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