JOURNAL ARTICLE
MULTICENTER STUDY

Current use of psychotropic medication in nursing homes

John Snowdon, Susan Day, Wesley Baker
International Psychogeriatrics 2006, 18 (2): 241-50
16185381

OBJECTIVE: To examine the current pattern of use of psychotropic medication in Sydney nursing homes and compare this with the pattern noted 5 and 10 years earlier.

METHOD: Data were recorded from medication cards concerning psychotropic medications prescribed for the 3093 residents in the 51 nursing homes in the Central Sydney Health Area. Documented diagnoses and demographic details were noted from their clinical files.

RESULTS: In late 2003, 47.2% of residents were taking one or more psychotropic drug regularly and another 3.5% had been given "as required" (prn) doses at least once in the preceding 4 weeks. Fewer residents were taking hypnotics (11.3%) and anxiolytics (4.1%) regularly, when compared to 1998, but more were taking antidepressants (20.5%). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors were prescribed to 11.4%, venlafaxine to 2.6%, mirtazapine 1.6% and tricyclics to 3.6%. Although the proportion taking antipsychotics had not fallen since 1998, there were over twice as many residents (16.4%) taking atypical neuroleptic medication in 2003 as there were taking conventional neuroleptics (8.1%). Most of them did not have schizophrenia.

CONCLUSIONS: There have been further reductions in the use of hypnotics and anxiolytics in Sydney nursing homes, with increased prescription of antidepressants and a striking change towards use of atypical rather than conventional neuroleptic medication.

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