Older people with problem behaviour in care homes are often given psychotropic medication due to lack of other options.

This is the conclusion of Ms Amy Wood-Mitchell from the Northumberland Tyne & Wear NHS Trust who presented her findings at the PSIGE conference, that was held in July 2007, at the Annual Conference for Psychology Specialists Working with Older People (PSIGE) - part of The British Psychological Society - at the University of Nottingham.

Using a qualitative approach eight 'old-age' consultant psychiatrists were interviewed about the factors which influenced their decisions to prescribe medication.

The results showed many inconsistencies in prescribing, often unrelated to the patient, such as pressure to prescribe, type of setting and lack of access to other services. The findings may explain why use of drugs is increasing for this type of problem, despite guidelines suggesting the use of non-drug based approaches prior to medication.

Ms Wood-Mitchell, said: "Many psychiatrists often feel that they have no other option but to prescribe psychotropic medications for challenging behaviours, as other options aren't available or viable. They feel that in order to reduce prescribing, money needs to be invested in dementia care, with the intention of improving the nature and culture of care settings; and the feasibility of non-pharmacological interventions."

British Psychological Society

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