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Antipsychotics in dementia: prevalence and quality of antipsychotic drug prescribing in UK mental health services

  • Thomas R. E. Barnes (a1), Sube Banerjee (a2), Noel Collins (a3), Adrian Treloar (a4), Samantha M. McIntyre (a5) and Carol Paton (a6)...

Abstract

Background

Up to a quarter of people in the UK with a diagnosis of dementia are prescribed an antipsychotic in any year. The potential risks of such treatment are becoming clearer, but the benefits remain uncertain. Concern about the frequency and quality of such prescribing was expressed in the National Dementia Strategy for England in 2009.

Aims

To provide an estimate of the prevalence of antipsychotic use for dementia in secondary mental health services in the UK and to collect data relevant to quality improvement initiatives for such prescribing practice.

Method

In the context of a UK quality improvement programme, relevant clinical audit data were collected for patients with dementia under the care of specialist older people's mental health services.

Results

Fifty-four mental health National Health Service (NHS) trusts submitted data on 10 199 patients. Of those patients without comorbid psychotic illness, 1620 (16%) were prescribed an antipsychotic; the common clinical indications for such medication were agitation, psychotic symptoms, aggression and distress. Multivariable regression found younger age, care home or in-patient setting, vascular or Parkinson's disease dementia and greater severity of dementia to be all significantly associated with being prescribed antipsychotic medication. Of the 1001 (62%) patients prescribed treatment for more than 6 months, only three-quarters had a documented review of therapeutic response in the previous 6 months.

Conclusions

The data reveal areas of relatively good current practice, including consideration of alternatives to antipsychotic medication and clear documentation of target symptoms. They also suggest areas for improvement, such as the frequency and quality of review of long-term medication. Strategies to reduce antipsychotic use should take account of the demographic and clinical variables predicting increased likelihood of antipsychotic prescription.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Thomas R. E. Barnes, Centre for Mental Health, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, Claybrook Centre, 37 Claybrook Road, London W6 8LN, UK. Email: t.r.barnes@imperial.ac.uk

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest

T.R.E.B. has received speaker funding from Lilly. A.T. has received research funding from Lundbeck. S.B. has received consultancy fees, speaker funding, research funding and educational support to attend conferences from pharmaceutical companies involved in the manufacture of antipsychotics, antidepressants and antidementia drugs, and has been employed by the Department of Health for England.

Footnotes

References

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Antipsychotics in dementia: prevalence and quality of antipsychotic drug prescribing in UK mental health services

  • Thomas R. E. Barnes (a1), Sube Banerjee (a2), Noel Collins (a3), Adrian Treloar (a4), Samantha M. McIntyre (a5) and Carol Paton (a6)...
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