RedUSe: reducing antipsychotic and benzodiazepine prescribing in residential aged care facilities

Med J Aust. 2018 May 21;208(9):398-403. doi: 10.5694/mja17.00857. Epub 2018 May 14.


Objective: To assess the impact of a multi-strategic, interdisciplinary intervention on antipsychotic and benzodiazepine prescribing in residential aged care facilities (RACFs). Design, setting: Prospective, longitudinal intervention in Australian RACFs, April 2014 - March 2016.

Participants: 150 RACFs (with 12 157 residents) comprised the main participant group; two further groups were consultant pharmacists (staff education) and community pharmacies (prescribing data). Data for all RACF residents, excluding residents receiving respite or end-stage palliative care, were included.

Intervention: A multi-strategic program comprising psychotropic medication audit and feedback, staff education, and interdisciplinary case review at baseline and 3 months; final audit at 6 months.

Main outcome measure: Mean prevalence of regular antipsychotic and benzodiazepine prescribing at baseline, and at 3 and 6 months. Secondary measures: chlorpromazine and diazepam equivalent doses/day/resident; proportions of residents for whom drug was ceased or the dose reduced; prevalence of antidepressant and prn (as required) psychotropic prescribing (to detect any substitution practice).

Results: During the 6-month intervention, the proportion of residents prescribed antipsychotics declined by 13% (from 21.6% [95% CI, 20.4-22.9%] to 18.9% [95% CI, 17.7-20.1%]), and that of residents regularly prescribed benzodiazepines by 21% (from 22.2% [95% CI, 21.0-23.5%] to 17.6% [95% CI, 16.5-18.7]; each, P < 0.001). Mean chlorpromazine equivalent dose declined from 22.9 mg/resident/day (95% CI, 19.8-26.0) to 20.2 mg/resident/day (95% CI, 17.5-22.9; P < 0.001); mean diazepam equivalent dose declined from 1.4 mg/resident/day (95% CI, 1.3-1.5) to 1.1 mg/resident/day (95% CI, 0.9-1.2; P < 0.001). For 39% of residents prescribed antipsychotics and benzodiazepines at baseline, these agents had been ceased or their doses reduced by 6 months. There was no substitution by sedating antidepressants or prn prescribing of other psychotropic agents.

Conclusions: The RedUSe program achieved significant reductions in the proportions of RACF residents prescribed antipsychotics and benzodiazepines.

Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials, ACTRN12617001257358.

Keywords: Anti-anxiety agents; Antipsychotic agents; Dementia; Deprescriptions; Geriatric psychiatry; Health services for the aged; Nursing care; Primary care; Psychopharmacology; Psychotropic drugs; Quality of health care; Sleep aids.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Benzodiazepines / therapeutic use
  • Chlorpromazine / therapeutic use
  • Commission on Professional and Hospital Activities
  • Education, Pharmacy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Inappropriate Prescribing / prevention & control*
  • Nursing Homes / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pharmacists / ethics
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use
  • Residential Facilities / standards*


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Chlorpromazine