Use of 2 or more antipsychotics found in 22% of adults with learning disabilities experiencing psychiatric crisis


There has been concern about the rate of use of antipsychotic mecdication for people with learning disabilities for some time. We have posted a number of studies which have raised questions about efficacy and rate of use here on this blog.

The authors of this study were concerned to look at prescription rates in people with learning disabilities who had experienced a psychiatric crisis. They looked at rates of antipsychotic use in 743 adults.

They found that nearly half (49%) of those who had experienced psychiatric crisis had been prescribed antipsychotics. They also found that the prescription of more than one antipsychotic, polypharmacy, was common. 22% of those prescribed antipsychotics were taking 2 or more at once. They found that the predictors of using 2 or more antipsychotics  were gender, residence, psychiatric diagnosis and previous hospitalisations.

The authors conclude by raising a number of implications of continued high rates of medication prescriptions to adults with learning disabilities.

Antipsychotic medication prescription patterns in adults with developmental disabilities who have experienced psychiatric crisis, Lunsky Y & Elserafi J, in Research in developmental disabilities, 33, 1, 32-38


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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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