Cochrane Summaries

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Psychosocial interventions for reducing antipsychotic medication in care home residents

Richter T, Meyer G, Möhler R, Köpke S
Published Online: 
12 December 2012

In care homes, antipsychotic medication is commonly prescribed to control so called 'behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia' such as agitation, aggression, or restlessness. However, it is questionable whether antipsychotic medication is effective and safe. Adverse effects, such as sedation, falls, and cardiovascular symptoms, are frequent. Therefore, antipsychotic medication should be avoided if possible. This review investigates whether psychosocial interventions aimed at reducing antipsychotic medication in care homes are effective. By psychosocial interventions, we mean programmes that consist of different non-pharmacological components including talking to the staff, residents, or both. We identified four randomised controlled trials for inclusion in the review. All studies examined, among other components, education targeted at nursing staff in care homes. The methodological quality of three studies was limited, one study showed high quality. In all studies the interventions led to a reduction of antipsychotic medication use, but the overall magnitude of the effect remains unclear.