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J Clin Pharm Ther. 2010 Apr;35(2):189-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2710.2009.01079.x.

Psycholeptic use in aged care homes in Tasmania, Australia.

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Unit for Medication Outcomes Research and Education (UMORE), School of Pharmacy, University of Tasmania, Hobart, 7001 Tasmania, Australia.



Although non-drug techniques are recommended to manage sleep disturbance, anxiety and challenging behaviours associated with dementia, several studies in Australia and overseas have noted a high use of psycholeptics (anxiolytics/hypnotics and antipsychotics) in aged care homes to treat these conditions. The aim of this study was to examine the current pattern of psycholeptic use in Tasmanian aged care homes and compare this data with other Australasian research.


Cross-sectional study of residents' psycholeptic use from 40 aged care homes throughout Tasmania during November 2005-January 2007.


Two thousand three hundred and eighty-nine residents were included in the study. Of the residents, over half were taking at least one psycholeptic medication regularly; over one-fifth of residents were taking antipsychotics (21%) and 43% were taking anxiolytics/hypnotics.


In comparison with other recent Australasian studies, the current level of benzodiazepine use in Tasmanian aged care homes is of major concern, at approximately three times that reported in Sydney and New Zealand. There is also substantial use of multiple psycholeptic agents. Interventions to reduce benzodiazepine use and improve psycholeptic utilization in Tasmania need to be developed urgently. The results demonstrate the value of regular auditing of prescribing to highlight problem areas in prescribing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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