A National Assessment of Alzheimer Disease and Antipsychotic Medication Prescribing Among Older Adults in Ambulatory Care Settings

Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. 2022 Jul-Sep;36(3):230-237. doi: 10.1097/WAD.0000000000000509. Epub 2022 Jun 7.


Objective: The objective of this study was to assess antipsychotic prescribing within ambulatory settings in the United States among older adults with Alzheimer disease after adjusting for demographic, provider, and clinical factors.

Methods: This cross-sectional cohort study utilized Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) ambulatory care data from 2014 to 2016 among visits 65 years old or older with any listed diagnosis of Alzheimer. Multivariable logistic regression analyses assessed the association between the outcome of antipsychotic prescribing after controlling for numerous demographic, provider, and clinical covariates. An extension of the Oacaxa-Blinder decomposition was used to assess observed differentials.

Results: An estimated 15,471,125 ambulatory visits involving Alzheimer disease among those 65 years old or older occurred from 2014 to 2016. Antipsychotics were prescribed in 9.3% of these visits, equating to 6.81 times higher multivariable-adjusted odds relative to non-Alzheimer visits (95% confidence interval: 2.86-16.20, P <0.001). The decomposition analysis indicated that the study's predictor variables explained 15.6% of the outcome gap between Alzheimer versus non-Alzheimer visits.

Conclusions: Despite potential mortality risks with antipsychotics in adults 65 years old or older with Alzheimer disease and recommendations discouraging their use, this nationally representative study observed significantly higher odds of prescribing independent of demographic, provider, and clinical characteristics. Polypharmacy may be a risk factor that warrants continued assessment regarding the appropriateness of antipsychotic prescribing in this vulnerable population.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease* / drug therapy
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Antipsychotic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Utilization
  • Humans
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • United States


  • Antipsychotic Agents