Background: Antipsychotic medications are commonly used to manage the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. Several large studies have demonstrated an association between treatment with antipsychotics and increased morbidity and mortality in people with dementia.
Aims: To assess the effectiveness of interventions used to reduce inappropriate prescribing of antipsychotics to the elderly with dementia in residential care.
Method: Systematic searches were conducted in 12 electronic databases. Reference lists of all included studies and forward citation searching using Web of Science were also conducted. All quantitative studies with a comparative research design and studies in which recognized methods of qualitative data collection were used were included. Articles were screened for inclusion independently by 2 reviewers. Data extraction and quality appraisal were performed by 1 reviewer and checked by a second with discrepancies resolved by discussion with a third if necessary.
Results: Twenty-two quantitative studies (reported in 23 articles) were included evaluating the effectiveness of educational programs (n = 11), in-reach services (n = 2), medication review (n = 4), and multicomponent interventions (n = 5). No qualitative studies meeting our inclusion criteria were identified. Eleven studies were randomized or controlled in design; the remainder were uncontrolled before and after studies. Beneficial effects were seen in 9 of the 11 studies with the most robust study design with reductions in antipsychotic prescribing levels of between 12% and 20%. Little empirical information was provided on the sustainability of interventions.
Conclusion: Interventions to reduce inappropriate prescribing of antipsychotic medications to people with dementia resident in care homes may be effective in the short term, but longer more robust studies are needed. For prescribing levels to be reduced in the long term, the culture and nature of care settings and the availability and feasibility of nondrug alternatives needs to be addressed.
Keywords: Antipsychotic; care homes; dementia; prescribing behavior; systematic review.
Copyright © 2014 AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.