Reducing antipsychotic medication in people with a learning disability

Zahir Ahmed, William Fraser, Michael P. Kerr, Chris Kiernan, Eric Emerson, Janet Robertson, David Felce, David Allen, Helen Baxter, James Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The use of antipsychotic drugs in people with learning disabilities is currently receiving intensified scrutiny and attempts are being made to reduce it. Aims: A randomised controlled trial was designed to investigate factors influencing antipsychotic drug reduction among people with learning disabilities prescribed such medication for behavioural problems. Method: Thirty-six participants randomly allocated to the experimental group underwent four, monthly 25% drug reduction stages. There were no planned drug changes for the control group (n=20). Results: Twelve participants (33%) completed full withdrawal; a further seven (19%) achieved and maintained at least a 50% reduction. Drug reduction was associated with increased dyskinesia and higher activity engagement but not increased maladaptive behaviour. Some setting characteristics were associated with drug reinstatement. Conclusions: A substantial proportion of people with learning disability prescribed antipsychotic medications for behavioural purposes rather than for treating psychotic illness can have their drugs reduced or withdrawn.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-46
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2007 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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