Medication use among Australian adults with intellectual disability in primary healthcare settings: a cross-sectional study

J Intellect Dev Disabil. 2013 Jun;38(2):177-81. doi: 10.3109/13668250.2013.778968. Epub 2013 Apr 3.


Background: There is concern about widespread medication use by people with intellectual disability (ID), especially psychotropic and anticonvulsant agents. However, there is sparse information on prescribing patterns in Australia.

Method: This cross-sectional study was conducted between 2000 and 2002 among adults with ID who live in the community in Brisbane, Australia. Medication data were extracted from a health screening tool. Demographic and medical data were collected from telephone interviews and medical records.

Results: Of 117 participants, 35% were prescribed psychotropic medications, most commonly antipsychotics, and 26% anticonvulsants. Complementary medications (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fish oil, and herbal products) were used by 29% of participants. After adjusting for potentially confounding variables, psychotropic medication use was significantly associated with having a psychiatric illness (adjusted odds ratio = 4.6, 95% CI [1.0, 20.6]) and challenging behaviours (4.4, [1.1, 17.3]).

Conclusions: People with ID use a broad range of medications. Psychotropic medications continue to be the most predominant agents prescribed for this population. Psychotropic medication use is positively associated with having a psychiatric illness and challenging behaviours.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Australia
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / drug therapy*
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Psychotropic Drugs