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medications for behavioural purposes rather than for treating psychotic illness can have their drugs reduced or withdrawn.
Copyright 2007 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.