Background: During last few decades, the proportion of elderly persons prescribed with antidepressants for the treatment of depression and anxiety has increased. The aim of this study was to evaluate prevalence of antidepressant prescription and related factors in elderly in-patients, as well as the consistency between prescription of antidepressants and specific diagnoses requiring these medications.
Methods: Thirty-four internal medicine and four geriatric wards in Italy participated in the Registro Politerapie SIMI–REPOSI study during 2008. In all, 1,155 in-patients, 65 years or older, were enrolled. Prevalence of the use of antidepressants was calculated at both admission and discharge. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between patients’ characteristics (age, gender, Charlson Index, number of drugs, specific diseases, other psychotropic medications) and the prescription of antidepressants.
Results: The number of patients treated with antidepressant medication at hospital admission was 115 (9.9%) and at discharge 119 (10.3%). In a multivariate analysis, a higher number of drugs (OR = 1.2; 95% CI = 1.1–1.3), use of anxiolytic drugs (OR = 2.1; 95% CI = 1.2–3.6 and OR = 3.8; 95% CI = 2.1–6.8), and a diagnosis of dementia (OR = 6.1; 95% CI = 3.1–11.8 and OR = 5.8; 95% CI = 3.3–10.3, respectively, at admission and discharge) were independently associated with antidepressant prescription. A specific diagnosis requiring the use of antidepressants was present only in 66 (57.4%) patients at admission and 76 (66.1%) at discharge.
Conclusions: Antidepressants are commonly prescribed in geriatric patients, especially in those receiving multiple drugs, other psychotropic drugs, and those affected by dementia. There is an inconsistency between the prescription of antidepressants and a specific diagnosis that the hospitalization only slightly improves.