Nurse practitioners' recommendations for pharmacotherapy in the management of adolescent concussion

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Background and purpose:Nurse practitioners (NPs) frequently treat acute conditions presenting in children and adolescents in the outpatient setting. No evidence-based guidance exists pertaining to the treatment of concussion with medications. The purpose of this study was to examine recommendations by NPs for pharmacotherapy of acute symptoms for adolescent concussion.Methods:This is a secondary analysis of data from a web-based census survey of all licensed NPs in Oregon and Washington State, where they practice as independent providers with prescriptive authority. Based on a standardized adolescent patient scenario video, NPs were asked to indicate prescription or nonprescription medication recommendations for concussion symptoms. Open-ended descriptions of medication recommendations were coded, summarized, and described.Conclusions:In narrative text, 78.4% of the 991 respondents recommended at least one type of prescription or nonprescription medication. Prescription medications (recommended by 17.2%) included antiemetics and antimigraine medications; nonprescription medications (recommended by 75.5%) included nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, over-the-counter pain relievers, and herbal medications. Pharmacotherapy recommendations varied by NP practice setting and rurality.Implications for practice:Nurse practitioners have full prescriptive authority in many states. No guidelines inform medication use in managing acute concussion symptoms, yet many providers recommend their use.

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