Reducing antipsychotic prescriptions in primary care: a healthcare perspective

Angelique Mavrodaris (Based at the Division of Mental Health and Wellbeing, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK)
Ian Philp (Based at the Division of Health Sciences, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Publication date: 15 March 2013



One in 14 people over 65 years suffer from dementia in the UK. Over 25 per cent are receiving antipsychotics, which cause increases in mortality and cerebrovascular events. The need for a reduction and the use of alternative supportive strategies has been advocated. Risperidone at six‐week intervals is the only antipsychotic licensed for treatment with regular review. The majority of management occurs at primary care level and in care homes. The purpose of this paper is to investigate antipsychotic prescribing practices and patient review in these settings.


In total, two surveys comprising questions addressing prescribing practices were developed and distributed electronically to all GP practices and care homes in Coventry and Warwickshire, West Midlands, England.


The majority of GPs (75 per cent) reported only “occasional” discontinuation of antipsychotics due to concerns at reducing drugs on their own, expectations of regulation from secondary care and resistance from care home staff. Poor reduction levels were reported in care homes, attributing low numbers to reluctance among GPs. History of cardiovascular risk factors did not appear to influence withdrawal. Only 40 per cent of GP practices maintained sole use of risperidone. At least six‐monthly reviews were reported by 63 per cent of GPs and 64 per cent of care homes, with very few conducting reviews at least three‐monthly. The importance of non‐pharmacological alternatives was emphasized, yet access was limited and highly resource‐dependent.


This study reveals the perspectives of staff delivering healthcare for people with dementia and behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). Potentially inappropriate antipsychotic principles were reported. A lack of communication and uncertainty of roles was evident. The development of understandable guidelines for healthcare workers and care home staff managing behavioural issues in patients with dementia is necessary.



Mavrodaris, A. and Philp, I. (2013), "Reducing antipsychotic prescriptions in primary care: a healthcare perspective", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 32-42.



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