A recent Australian national cohort study has investigated the prevalence of psychotropic medicine dispensing (specifically of antipsychotic, benzodiazepine and antidepressant medicines) one year before and one year after entry into residential aged care. During the first three months of care for 322,120 residents included in the study, 68,483 received at least one antipsychotic (21.3%; 95% CI, 21.1–21.4%), 45.7% of whom had not received them during the year before entry into care. 98,315 received at least one benzodiazepine (30.5%; 95% CI, 30.4–30.7%), 39.2% of whom had not received the in the year preceding entry to care. 122,224 received at least one antidepressant (37.9%; 95% CI, 37.8–38.1%), 19.8% of whom had not received them in the preceding year.

The researchers also reported a significantly higher prevalence of antipsychotic (prevalence ratio [PR], 3.37; 95% CI, 3.31–3.43) and antidepressant (PR, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.04–1.07) dispensing in patients with dementia, compared to patients without, during the first three months of residential care. Overall, it was found that psychotropic dispensing evidently increased following entry into Australian residential aged facilities.  The study, which can be viewed here, emphasizes the need for interdisciplinary interventions to investigate why the prevalence of psychotropic medications remains high and to develop strategies to reduce prescribing.

Contributed by Australian Medication Safety Services Associate – Isabella Singh