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Reducing antipsychotic medication in people with a learning disability

  • Zahir Ahmed (a1), William Fraser (a1), Michael P. Kerr (a1), Chris Kiernan (a2), Eric Emerson (a2), Janet Robertson (a2), David Felce (a1), David Allen (a1), Helen Baxter (a1) and James Thomas (a1)...
Extract
Background

The use of antipsychotic drugs in people with learning disabilities is currently receiving intensified scrutiny and attempts are being made to reduce it.

Aims

A randomised controlled trial was designed to investigate factors influencing antipsychotic drug reduction among people with learning disabilities prescribed such medication for behavioural problems.

Method

Thirty-six participants randomly allocated to the experimental group underwent four, monthly 25% drug reduction stages. There were no planned drug changes for the control group (n = 20).

Results

Twelve participants (33%) completed full withdrawal; afurther seven (19%) achieved and maintained at least a 50% reduction. Drug reduction was associated with increased dyskinesia and higher activity engagement but not increased maladaptive behaviour. Some setting characteristics were associated with drug reinstatement.

Conclusions

A substantial proportion of people with learning disability prescribed antipsychotic medications for behavioural purposes rather than for treating psychotic illness can have their drugs reduced or withdrawn.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Z. Ahmed, Welsh Centre for Learning Disabilities, Clinical Studies, Meridian Court, North Road, Cardiff CF4 3BL
Footnotes
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See editorial pp. 10–11, this issue.

Declaration of interest

Funding from the National Research and Development Programme for People with Physical and Complex Disabilities.

Footnotes
References
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Reducing antipsychotic medication in people with a learning disability

  • Zahir Ahmed (a1), William Fraser (a1), Michael P. Kerr (a1), Chris Kiernan (a2), Eric Emerson (a2), Janet Robertson (a2), David Felce (a1), David Allen (a1), Helen Baxter (a1) and James Thomas (a1)...
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