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Psychotropic Medications and the Transition Into Care: A National Data Linkage Study

Authors


Address correspondence to Dr. Aideen Maguire, Centre for Public Health, Queen's University Belfast, Institute of Clinical Sciences Block B, Royal Hospitals Site, Grosvenor Road, Belfast, BT12 6 BJ, Northern Ireland. E-mail: amaguire22@qub.ac.uk

Abstract

Objectives

To determine whether excessive and often inappropriate or dangerous psychotropic drug dispensing to older adults is unique to care homes or is a continuation of community treatment.

Design

Population-based data-linkage study using prescription drug information.

Setting

Northern Ireland's national prescribing database and care home information from the national inspectorate.

Participants

Two hundred fifty thousand six hundred seventeen individuals aged 65 and older.

Measurements

Prescription information was extracted for all psychotropic drugs included in the British National Formulary (BNF) categories 4.1.1, 4.1.2, and 4.2.2 (hypnotics, anxiolytics, and antipsychotics) dispensed over the study period. Repeated cross-sectional analysis was used to monitor changes in psychotropic drug dispensing over time.

Results

Psychotropic drug use was higher in care homes than the community; 20.3% of those in care homes were dispensed an antipsychotic in January 2009, compared with 1.1% of those in the community. People who entered care had higher use of psychotropic medications before entry than those who did not enter care, but this increased sharply in the month of admission and continued to rise. Antipsychotic drug dispensing increased from 8.2% before entry to 18.6% after entering care (risk ratio (RR) = 2.26, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.96–2.59) and hypnotic drug dispensing from 14.8% to 26.3% (RR=1.78, 95% CI=1.61–1.96).

Conclusion

A continuation of high use before entry cannot wholly explain the higher dispensing of psychotropic drugs to individuals in care homes. Although drug dispensing is high in older people in the community, it increases dramatically on entry to care. Routine medicine reviews are necessary in older people and are especially important during transitions of care.

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