International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 941–949 | Cite as

Improvements in the prescribing of antipsychotics in dementia and psychogeriatric units in New Zealand

  • June M. TordoffEmail author
  • Nagham J. Ailabouni
  • Dorothy P. Browne
  • Hesham S. Al-Sallami
  • Andrew R. Gray
Research Article


Background Despite warnings of possible serious events, and reports of little benefit, antipsychotic agents are commonly prescribed in residential care for older people with dementia. A residential care provider (RCP) in New Zealand sought to examine and improve prescribing in some of their facilities. Objective To examine changes following a range of interventions implemented by a RCP to improve the prescribing of antipsychotics. Setting Thirteen dementia and psychogeriatric units in New Zealand managed by a RCP. Method An audit (n = 228 residents) was undertaken in thirteen dementia and psychogeriatric units in New Zealand in July–September 2011. A modified Best Practice Advocacy Centre (bpacnz) tool was used to examine antipsychotic prescribing, the administration of “when required” (PRN) antipsychotic doses and antipsychotic-related documentation (e.g. documenting of “target behaviour identified” and “need to monitor for adverse effects”). Prescribing for some central nervous system agents and fractures and fall rates were also examined. Some educational, managerial, environmental, recreational and resident-specific interventions were implemented post-audit. The audit (n = 233) was repeated in July–September 2013. Main outcome measures: (1) Number of residents prescribed and administered antipsychotics (2) Documentation of antipsychotic-related information in residents’ notes. Results The administration of antipsychotics and prescribing of regular doses (±PRN) decreased about a quarter from 2011 to 2013: 50.4–38.2, and 49.1–36.5 % (ORs 0.60, 0.57 respectively, both p < 0.001), and prescribing for any antipsychotic dose (including PRN only) decreased: 60.5–50.6 % (OR 0.67, p = 0.003). Documenting of “target behaviour identified” significantly increased from 54.3 to 71.2 %, (OR 1.99, p = 0.017) and documenting of the “need to monitor for adverse effects” increased non-significantly (30.4–46.6 %, p = 0.098); both falling short of the 90 % goal set by bpacnz. Benzodiazepine prescribing significantly decreased [39.0–25.8 %, (OR 0.59, p < 0.001)]. Conclusions Following a range of interventions, antipsychotic prescribing, administration and some related documentation improved in dementia and psychogeriatric units in New Zealand. Future studies should aim to identify the most effective of these interventions so they can be considered for implementing in similar settings.


Antipsychotics Dementia Elderly New Zealand Nursing homes Older adults 



We thank the staff in each unit for facilitating the data collection, and staff at the Best Practice Advocacy Centre New Zealand for support and advice.


The Residential Care Provider provided funding to support the study, and information on the interventions implemented, but took no part in the design, execution, analysis and interpretation of data, or writing.

Conflicts of interest

The investigators have no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • June M. Tordoff
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nagham J. Ailabouni
    • 1
  • Dorothy P. Browne
    • 1
  • Hesham S. Al-Sallami
    • 1
  • Andrew R. Gray
    • 2
  1. 1.School of PharmacyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.Dunedin School of MedicineUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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