Not less but different: psychotropic drug utilization trends in Norwegian nursing homes during a 12-year period. The Bergen District Nursing Home (BEDNURS) Study

Harald A Nygaard, Sabine Ruths, Jørund Straand, Mala Naik
Aging Clinical and Experimental Research 2004, 16 (4): 277-82

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The use of psychotropic drugs in nursing homes is generally considered to be inappropriately high. The aim of the present survey was to compare psychotropic drug use in nursing homes (NHs) in 1985 relative to 1996/97, and to explore predictors for this drug use.

METHODS: Cross-sectional study. Mental capacity was assessed by means of the Clinical Dementia Rating scale (CDR), and behavior registered by trained nurses. Scheduled, daily use of psychotropic drugs among long-term care residents in 1985 (N=1247) and 1996/97 (N=1035) was recorded. Bivariate analyses and logistic regression analyses were applied to establish predictors for psychoactive drug use.

RESULTS: From 1985 to 1996/97, the proportion of residents using any psychotropic drug increased from 52 to 57%. Antipsychotic drug use decreased from 33 to 22%, while anxiolytics increased from 11 to 16%, hypnotics from 11 to 14%, and antidepressants from 12 to 31%. Psychotropic drug use was predominantly associated with behavioral symptoms and not with mental impairment. Concurrent use of two or more psychotropic drugs increased from 23 to 32% of all psychotropic users.

CONCLUSIONS: During the study period, a substantial decline in the use of antipsychotics was observed, but a generally increased overall use of psychotropic drugs, particularly antidepressants. Psychotropic drug treatment was mainly associated with behavioral symptoms.

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