Inappropriate long-term use of antipsychotic drugs is common among people with dementia living in specialized care units
Antipsychotic drugs are widely used for the treatment of Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD), despite their limited efficacy and concerns about safety. The aim of this study was to describe antipsychotic drug therapy among people with dementia living in specialized care units in northern Sweden.
This study was conducted in 40 specialized care units in northern Sweden, with a total study population of 344 people with dementia. The study population was described in regard to antipsychotic drug use, ADL function, cognitive function and BPSD, using the Multi-Dimensional Dementia Assessment Scale (MDDAS). These data were collected at baseline and six months later. Detailed data about antipsychotic prescribing were collected from prescription records.
This study showed that 132 persons (38%) in the study population used antipsychotic drugs at the start of the study. Of these, 52/132 (39%) had prescriptions that followed national guidelines with regard to dose and substance.
After six months, there were 111 of 132 persons left because of deaths and dropouts. Of these 111 people, 80 (72%) were still being treated with antipsychotics, 63/111 (57%) with the same dose. People who exhibited aggressive behavior (OR: 1.980, CI: 1.515-2.588), or passiveness (OR: 1.548, CI: 1.150-2.083), or had mild cognitive impairment (OR: 2.284 CI: 1.046-4.988), were at increased risk of being prescribed antipsychotics.
The prevalence of antipsychotic drug use among people with dementia living in specialized care units was high and inappropriate long-term use of antipsychotic drugs was common.
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Available from: Marjorie Nelissen-Vrancken
- "Long-term or inappropriate use of antipsychotics is common , a recent study found that 31% of the nursing home patients used PDs for a sustained period of at least 2 years  and in another study 74% of dementia patients in nursing homes used PDs for 83% of their nursing home stay . This does not comply with available evidence on risks, side effects, limited evidence for efficacy of these drugs and long-term inefficacy [15,21,22]. "
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ABSTRACT: Nursing home patients with dementia use psychotropic drugs longer and more frequently than recommended by guidelines implying psychotropic drugs are not always prescribed appropriately. These drugs can have many side effects and effectiveness is limited. Psychotropic drug use between nursing home units varies and is not solely related to the severity of neuropsychiatric symptoms. There is growing evidence indicating that psychotropic drug use is associated with environmental factors, suggesting that the prescription of psychotropic drugs is not only related to (objective) patient factors. However, other factors related to the patient, elderly care physician, nurse and the physical environment are only partially identified. Using a mixed method of qualitative and quantitative research, this study aims to understand the nature of psychotropic drug use and its underlying factors by identifying: 1) frequency and appropriateness of psychotropic drug use for neuropsychiatric symptoms in nursing home patients with dementia, 2) factors associated with (appropriateness of) psychotropic drug use.
A cross-sectional mixed methods study. For the quantitative study, patients with dementia (n = 540), nursing staff and elderly care physicians of 36 Dementia Special Care Units of 12 nursing homes throughout the Netherlands will be recruited. Six nursing homes with high average rates and six with low average rates of psychotropic drug use, based on a national survey about frequency of psychotropic drug use on units, will be included. Psychotropic drugs include antipsychotics, anxiolytics, hypnotics, antidepressants, anticonvulsants and anti-dementia drugs. Appropriateness will be measured by an instrument based on the Medication Appropriateness Index and current guidelines for treatment of neuropsychiatric symptoms. Factor associated to psychotropic drug use, related to the patient, elderly care physician, nurse and physical environment, will be explored using multilevel regression analyses. For the qualitative study, in depth interviews with staff will be held and analyzed to identify and explore other unknown factors.
This study will provide insight into factors that are associated with the frequency and appropriateness of psychotropic drug use for neuropsychiatric symptoms. Understanding psychotropic drug use and its associations may contribute to better dementia care.
Available from: Hugo Lövheim
- "This study reveals that many people with dementia who live in specialized care units appear to be on stable doses of psychotropic drugs for six months or possibly longer; after six months, 67%, 44% and 57% were being treated with the same dose of the same antidepressant, anxiolytic or hypnotic/sedative drug respectively. Also, 57% of the study population were being treated with the same dose of the same antipsychotic drug after six months
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ABSTRACT: Psychotropic drugs are widely used among old people with dementia but few studies have described long-term treatment in this group of patients. The purpose of this study was to explore the long-term use of psychotropic drugs in old people with dementia.
Data on psychotropic drug use, functioning in the activities of daily living (ADL), cognitive function and behavioral and psychological symptoms were collected at baseline and six months later, using the Multi-Dimensional Dementia Assessment Scale (MDDAS). The data were collected in 2005--2006. Detailed data about the prescribing of psychotropic drugs were collected from prescription records. This study was conducted in 40 specialized care units in northern Sweden, with a study population of 278 people with dementia.
At the start of the study, 229 of the participants (82%) were prescribed at least one psychotropic drug; 150 (54%) used antidepressants, 43 (16%) used anxiolytics, 107 (38%) used hypnotics and sedatives, and 111 (40%) used antipsychotics. Among the baseline users of antidepressants, anxiolytics, hypnotics and sedatives and antipsychotics, 67%, 44% 57% and 57% respectively, still used the same dose of the same psychotropic drug after six months. Associations were found between behavioral and psychological symptoms and different psychotropic drugs.
Psychotropic drug use was high among people with dementia living in specialized care units and in many cases the drugs were used for extended periods. It is very important to monitor the effects and adverse effects of the prescribed drug in this frail group of people.
- "Moreover, the evidence regarding other BPSD symptoms is not convincing (Ballard and Waite, 2006). Despite this weak evidence, antipsychotics are still widely used among people with dementia, and inappropriate long-term treatment is common (Gustafsson et al., 2013). On the other hand, antidepressant drugs have been shown to have some efficacy in treating BPSD symptoms such as agitation and even psychosis in persons with dementia (Pollock et al., 2007) and could possibly serve as an alternative to antipsychotics among elderly individuals (Henry et al., 2011). "
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Behavioral and psychological symptoms are common among cognitively impaired individuals and psychotropic drugs are widely used for their treatment. The aim of this study was to describe the prevalence and associated factors of psychotropic and anti-dementia drug use among old people with cognitive impairment living in geriatric care settings.
The study comprised 2,019 cognitively impaired people living in geriatric care units in the county of Västerbotten, Sweden. Data concerning psychotropic and anti-dementia drug use, function in activities of daily living, cognitive function, and prevalence of behavioral and psychological symptoms were collected, using the Multi-Dimensional Dementia Assessment Scale.
Of the study population, 1,442 individuals (71%) were prescribed at least one psychotropic drug (antidepressants (49%), anxiolytics, hypnotics, and sedatives (36%), antipsychotics (25%)). Furthermore, 363 individuals (18%) received anti-dementia drugs. Associations between various behavioral and psychological symptoms were found for all psychotropic drug classes and anti-dementia drugs. Verbally disruptive/attention-seeking behavior was associated with all psychotropic drugs. Use of antipsychotics was associated with several behavioral and psychological symptoms, including aggressive behavior.
The associations between behavioral and psychological symptoms and psychotropic drug use found in this study indicate that these drugs are prescribed to treat behavioral and psychological symptoms among cognitively impaired individuals despite limited evidence of their efficacy. Given the significant risk of adverse effects among old people with cognitive impairment, it is important to ensure that any medication used is both appropriate and safe.
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