Background Natural disasters provoke an increase in mental and medical disorders in survivors. Monitoring drug prescription changes after natural disasters can provide an indirect evaluation of trauma impact in the population. Moreover, it could be useful to both identify risk categories that require special assistance and assess possible drug abuse or misuse. Objective To assess the effects of earthquake that occurred on April 6, 2009 on the use of antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs in the province of L’Aquila. Setting General population of L’Aquila and Caserta provinces from Southern Italy. Method In a retrospective, drug utilization study we identified all the persons who received at least one dispensing of antidepressant and/or antipsychotic drugs during the period April 1st, 2008–March 31st, 2010. Main outcome measure The monthly prevalence of use of these drugs, 1 year prior and after the date of earthquake in L’Aquila was compared between the two provinces, L’Aquila and Caserta. All the analyses were stratified by age groups, gender and drug classes. Results We observed an increase in the use of antipsychotic drugs and, to lesser extent, of antidepressant agents (mostly typicals and tryciclics, respectively) in the first 2 months after the earthquake in L’Aquila but not in Caserta. This increase was almost two-fold higher in women older than 75 years. After the first 2 months from the earthquake, the use of antidepressants and antipsychotics was stabilized at the pre-earthquake levels in L’Aquila. Conclusion The earthquake determined a short-term increase in the use of antipsychotics (mostly haloperidol and promazine) and, to lesser extent, of antidepressants (i.e. tryciclics), especially in older women of L’Aquila.
Antidepressants Antipsychotics Drug use Earthquake Italy Natural disaster Prescriptions
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We thank Prof. Peri Ballantyne, from Trent University, and affiliated with University of Toronto in Canada for editing the manuscript.
No funding has been received for this study.
Conflicts of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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