JOURNAL ARTICLE

Newer psychotropic medication use in nursing home residents

R A Lasser, T Sunderland
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 1998, 46 (2): 202-7
9475450

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the use of newer psychotropic agents in nursing home residents in the era of new Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) guidelines.

DESIGN: Retrospective chart review of referrals to an on-site geriatric psychiatry service in seven Eastern Massachusetts facilities during 1995-1996.

SUBJECTS: The 298 patients examined included 226 women and 72 men with a mean (SD) age of 81.9 (9.4) years.

MEASUREMENTS: Patient demographics, psychiatric history and medical diagnoses, prescribed medication information, and mental status examination results were recorded systematically. Descriptive statistics of demographics, medication use, and dosing were generated, and comparative analyses were performed by chi-square, ANOVA, and Tukey's tests.

RESULTS: Overall, 69% of subjects were taking at least one psychotropic medication. Although benzodiazepines (32%) and antipsychotics (42%) were used by a large portion of subjects, antidepressants (61%) were the most commonly prescribed psychotropic, with 53% taking serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The atypical antipsychotic, risperidone, accounted for more than 30% of antipsychotic prescriptions. Low rates of anticholinergic use and low doses and rates of tricyclic antidepressant use were found in Alzheimer's disease patients. Mean dosing of the psychotropic agents fell within HCFA guidelines.

CONCLUSIONS: Newer-generation psychotropics have had a significant impact on the prescribing practices of primary physicians in treating nursing home residents. Of clinical importance is the high rate of antidepressant use in a population that has traditionally received inadequate pharmacotherapy for depression. More studies are needed to examine a shift to the use of other psychotropic drugs in this population in the post-HCFA area.

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