Prevalence of Psychotropic Drug Use in Adults with Intellectual Disability: Positive and Negative Findings from a Large Scale Study

George A. Jervis Clinic, New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, 1050 Forest Hill Rd., Staten Island, NY, 10314, USA.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.06). 07/2012; 43(3). DOI: 10.1007/s10803-012-1617-6
Source: PubMed


The use of psychotropics by categories and the reason for their prescription was investigated in a large scale study of 4,069 adults with ID, including those with autism spectrum disorder, in New York State. Similar to other studies it was found that 58 % (2,361/4,069) received one or more psychotropics. Six percent received typical, 6 % received typical, while 39 % received atypical antipsychotics. There was greater use of antidepressants (23 %), mood stabilizers (19 %), and antianxiety agents (16 %) relative to other studies. The use of anti-impulsives, stimulants and hypnotics was rare (1-2 %). Half of the psychotropics were prescribed for treatment of major psychiatric disorders, 13 % for control of challenging behaviors, and 38 % for both. Results indicated that the major psychiatric disorders, except anxiety disorder and autism, influenced the use of psychotropics and the number of medication used. These findings imply that although practitioners still rely too heavily on the use of antipsychotics in this population, there is a welcome shift in the prescription patterns relative to other studies. The practitioners appeared to use psychotropics primarily to treat diagnosed psychiatric disorders and not just to control aggressive behavior which suggests that evidence-based practice of psychiatry is playing an increasing role in the ID population.

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Available from: Ira L Cohen, Jan 21, 2014
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    • "Finally, individuals with behavior problems were more likely to receive further involvement from psychiatry (cf.,Tsakanikos, Underwood, Sturmey, Bouras, & McCarthy, 2011) and approximately one-third of the individuals in this study had been prescribed psychotropic drugs, which is in line with other European studies (e.g.,Deb et al., 2001;Holden & Gitlesen, 2004;Myrbakk & von Tetzchner, 2008) but markedly lower than recent prevalence figures found in the US (Tsiouris, Kim, Brown, Pettinger, & Cohen, 2013). With regard to psychotropic drug use among individuals with ID and behavior problems, the prevalence figures are in the region of 50% across studies, indicating that people with behavior problems in Western countries generally are more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medication, despite lack of evidence for its effectiveness in treating behavior problems (Matson & Neal, 2009). "
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