Use of anti-psychotic drugs by people with dementia 'under reported'

October 17, 2012

The scale of the challenge to reduce the use of anti-psychotic drugs by people with dementia may be under-estimated, according to researchers from Aston University and the University of East Anglia, working with NHS Kent and Medway.

There is a key public health challenge to reduce the prescribing of to people with dementia as they are thought to be associated with up to 1,800 deaths a year.

Ian Maidment, corresponding author and a Senior Lecturer in from Aston University has worked in medication management in dementia for 20 years.

He said: "The true scale of anti-psychotic usage in dementia may be under-estimated. Usage may be up to 46 per cent greater than official figures suggest."

The researchers compared the results of the government's National Dementia and Anti-Psychotic Prescribing Audit with research, led by Anne Child, an experienced senior clinical pharmacist for NHS Kent and Medway cluster of primary care trusts (PCTs).

They found that 15.3 per cent of people with dementia received an anti-psychotic, compared to the national audit, which found 10.5 per cent. However, only 48.9 per cent of GP practices across the country participated in the national audit compared with 98.3 per cent of practices in Medway which took part in the detailed local study.

The Medway project, carried out from January to December 2011, and analysed by researchers from Aston University and the University of East Anglia, identified that:

  • People with dementia living in care homes were nearly 3.5 times more likely to receive a low-dose anti-psychotic than people living at home (25.5 per cent compared to 7.3 per cent)
  • It was possible to reduce or withdraw low-dose anti-psychotics for more than 60 per cent of patients with dementia (43 out of 70) whose medication was initiated by their GP.
  • Clinical trials need to be commissioned as a matter of urgency to confirm the effectiveness of pharmacist medication reviews.
The paper, which appears in the BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Psychiatry, also sets out the detailed process undertaken before and during withdrawal of anti-psychotics from patients.

Anne Child, primary author, who is now head of Pharmaceutical Care at Avante Care said: "We have demonstrated that a multi-disciplinary approach to dementia care, involving a pharmacy-led medication review, GPs, and care homes, can produce a positive outcome for patients, in one region of the country. More work is now needed."

Dr Chris Fox, co-author, from UEA's Norwich Medical School said: "Another issue with the national audit is it fails to report the usage of the drug lorazepam, which is sometimes used instead of anti-psychotics. It is potentially equally dangerous. Until we capture the true level of usage of all these drugs we cannot truly understand the issue."

Ian Maidment added: "Whilst the national audit is an important first step, it presents a partial picture. If we rely on it, exclusively we are doing a disservice to people with , their carers and their families."

Explore further: Reassurance for dementia sufferers on impact of common drugs

More information: www.biomedcentral.com/content/ … 1471-244X-12-155.pdf

Related Stories

Reassurance for dementia sufferers on impact of common drugs

September 18, 2011
Researchers whose findings on the detrimental impact of some common medicines on elderly people were widely reported earlier in the summer have found that taking a few of these medicines does not appear to cause further cognitive ...

Humor as effective as medication in treating agitation in dementia

September 21, 2011
Humour therapy is as effective as widely used antipsychotic drugs in managing agitation in patients with dementia – and avoids serious drug side effects, a new study shows.

People with dementia less likely to return home after stroke

October 31, 2011
New research shows people with dementia who have a stroke are more likely to become disabled and not return home compared to people who didn't have dementia at the time they had a stroke. The study is published in the November ...

Study calls for reviews of psychotropic medication use in elderly

September 13, 2012
(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 ...

Older people with dementia cared for mostly at home

May 11, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Many elderly people with dementia live and die at home rather than in nursing homes, a new study has found.

Recommended for you

Major cause of dementia discovered

December 11, 2017
An international team of scientists have confirmed the discovery of a major cause of dementia, with important implications for possible treatment and diagnosis.

Canola oil linked to worsened memory and learning ability in Alzheimer's

December 7, 2017
Canola oil is one of the most widely consumed vegetable oils in the world, yet surprisingly little is known about its effects on health. Now, a new study published online December 7 in the journal Scientific Reports by researchers ...

Genetics study suggests that education reduces risk of Alzheimer's disease

December 7, 2017
The theory that education protects against Alzheimer's disease has been given further weight by new research from the University of Cambridge, funded by the European Union. The study is published today in the BMJ.

Healthy mitochondria could stop Alzheimer's

December 6, 2017
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and neurodegeneration worldwide. A major hallmark of the disease is the accumulation of toxic plaques in the brain, formed by the abnormal aggregation of a protein called ...

Alzheimer's damage in mice reduced with compound that targets APOE gene

December 6, 2017
People who carry the APOE4 genetic variant face a substantial risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.

Lithium in water associated with slower rate of Alzheimer's disease deaths

December 5, 2017
Rates of diabetes and obesity, which are important risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, also decrease if there is a particular amount of lithium in the water, says the study, published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer's ...

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.