Barriers to antipsychotic discontinuation in nursing homes : an exploratory study
Stichele, Vander, Robert R.H.
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Aging and mental health. - Abington
, p. 346-353
University of Antwerp
Objectives: Despite safety warnings on serious adverse effects and guidance advising discontinuation, antipsychotic use in nursing homes remains high. Studies documenting the barriers experienced to antipsychotic discontinuation are rare. This exploratory study investigates the willingness of nurses and general practitioners (GPs) as well as the barriers to undertake antipsychotic discontinuation.Design and setting: A mixed-method study involving an expert meeting, followed by a survey using structured questionnaires distributed to responsible nurses (primary caregivers) and treating GPs on selected nursing home residents in Belgian nursing homes to generate case-specific information.Results: Antipsychotic users (n = 113) had a mean age of 81years (range 57-97); 62% were female and 81% had moderate to severe cognitive impairment. Nurses and GPs indicated a willingness for antipsychotic discontinuation in a small proportion of residents, 13.8% and 12.2%, respectively, with a shared willingness in only 4.2%. Residents for whom there was a higher willingness to try antipsychotic discontinuation were generally older (mean age 84.6vs. 80.3, p = 0.07), had high physical dependency (ADL > 14, 93.3% vs. 60.9%, p = 0.01) and resided on a ward with controlled access (80.0% vs. 45.7%, p = 0.02). In contrast, residents for whom there was a significant lower willingness for discontinuation already had a previously failed discontinuation effort, and may present risk of harm to themselves or to others. Nurses working longer on the ward, with lower education, presented higher barriers to discontinuation of antipsychotics.Conclusion: Nurses and GPs share a very low willingness and high barriers to antipsychotic discontinuation. To implement discontinuation programs, complex multidisciplinary interventions should be offered taking existing barriers into account.