Study calls for reviews of psychotropic medication use in elderly

September 13, 2012, University of Dundee

(Medical Xpress)—Regular clinical reviews of psychotropic medication should be established in all care homes to promote safe and effective prescribing to an at-risk population of elderly people, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Dundee and NHS Fife, published today in Age & Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society.

The use of psychotropic drugs - such as antipsychotics and antidepressants - in older people has long been of concern, particularly among those who are in nursing homes. A recent UK Parliamentary report expressed concern that their `inappropriate use' in care homes was a 'means of controlling patients'. There have also been recommendations that there should be a reduction of use of antipsychotic drugs in older people with dementia across the UK.

The new study shows that approximately 1 in 6 older people receive at least one psychotropic medication in a 2-year period. The figure rises to 2 in 5 among nursing home residents.

However, the study found that the majority of psychotropic drugs used by nursing home residents were started prior to the patient being admitted, and for those who started antipsychotics just prior to admission it was more likely the person would continue to receive the drugs.

"This study presents a complex picture of the prescribing and use of these medicines," said Colin McCowan, Deputy Director of the Health Informatics Centre at the University of Dundee. "Psychotropic use is significantly higher in care home residents but they would seem to be initiated primarily before people are admitted.

"This may be evidence against the belief that initiation is largely driven by care home staff to make residents easier or more convenient to manage.

"There may be valid reasons for the initiation of these drugs but prolonged use of psychotropic medication in is not recommended and may cause harm. The key issue our study suggests is that there should be systematic medication reviews for patients on these drugs, to highlight drugs that may be discontinued if the reasons for their initial prescription are no longer valid."

The study compared the prescribing of psychotropic medications in Tayside for patients living in to patients living at home. It used data gathered over a two-year period.

Previous research has shown that many of the antipsychotics being prescribed to patients are likely to be having very little beneficial effect, and can be reduced and usually stopped.

Stella Clark, of Fife, said there were some promising signs in prescribing patterns but that national guidance still needed to be developed.

"We have recently seen data for the whole of England which showed a reduction in the prescription of antipsychotics to people with dementia," said Stella.

"This is a really important area of prescribing where changes can be made which will improve patient safety and there is a clear need for national guidance to be developed."

Explore further: Research shows older Australians overprescribed psychotropic drugs

Related Stories

Research shows older Australians overprescribed psychotropic drugs

August 19, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- University of Queensland researchers have called for urgent action following a study that reveals older Australians are being over prescribed psychotropic drugs, resulting in serious safety and cost concerns. ...

Recommended for you

Patients receive most opioids at the doctor's office, not the ER

January 16, 2018
Around the country, state legislatures and hospitals have tightened emergency room prescribing guidelines for opioids to curb the addiction epidemic, but a new USC study shows that approach diverts attention from the main ...

FDA bans use of opioid-containing cough meds by kids

January 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Trying to put a dent in the ongoing opioid addiction crisis, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday slapped strict new restrictions on the use of opioid-containing cold and cough products by kids.

Taking ibuprofen for long periods found to alter human testicular physiology

January 9, 2018
A team of researchers from Denmark and France has found that taking regular doses of the pain reliever ibuprofen over a long period of time can lead to a disorder in men called compensated hypogonadism. In their paper published ...

Nearly one-third of Canadians have used opioids: study

January 9, 2018
Nearly one in three Canadians (29 percent) have used "some form of opioids" in the past five years, according to data released Tuesday as widespread fentanyl overdoses continue to kill.

Growing opioid epidemic forcing more children into foster care

January 8, 2018
The opioid epidemic has become so severe it's considered a national public health emergency. Addiction to prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone and morphine, has contributed to a dramatic rise in overdose deaths and ...

Price tag on gene therapy for rare form of blindness: $850K

January 3, 2018
A first-of-its kind genetic treatment for blindness will cost $850,000 per patient, making it one of the most expensive medicines in the world and raising questions about the affordability of a coming wave of similar gene-targeting ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.