Background: Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) are a common problem in long-term care facilities (LTC). Clinical guidelines dictate that first-line treatments for BPSD are psychosocial and behavioral interventions; if these are unsuccessful, psychotropic medications may be trialed at low doses and their effects can be monitored.Methods: There have previously been no studies with nationally representative samples to investigate psychotropic administration in LTCs in Australia. This study determines the prevalence of psychotropic administration in a representative stratified random sample of 446 residents living with dementia from 53 Australian LTCs. Questionnaire and medical chart data in this study is drawn from a larger cross-sectional, mixed methods study on quality of life in Australian LTCs.Results: It was found that 257 (58%) residents were prescribed psychotropic medications including: antipsychotics (n = 160, 36%), benzodiazepines (n = 136, 31%), antidepressants (n = 117, 26%), and anti-dementia medications (n = 9, 2%). BPSD were found to be very common in the sample, with 82% (n = 364) of participants experiencing at least one BPSD. The most prevalent BPSD were depression (n = 286, 70%) and agitation (n = 299, 67%).Conclusions: Although detailed background information was not collected on individual cases, the prevalence found is indicative of systematic industry-wide, over-prescription of psychotropic medications as a first-line treatment for BPSD. This study highlights a clear need for further research and interventions in this area.
- psychotropic medication