PURPOSE: Pharmacoepidemiological studies aimed to distinguish drug use in nursing home (NH) residents with and without dementia could be useful to target specific interventions to improve prescribing. This multicenter retrospective study aimed (i) to describe drug therapy in a large sample of NH residents according to the diagnosis of dementia, and (ii) to record the most frequent potentially severe drug-drug interactions.
METHODS: This study was conducted in a sample of Italian long-term care NHs. Drug prescription information, diseases, and socio-demographic characteristics of NH residents were collected at three different times during 2018.
RESULTS: The mean number of drugs was significantly higher in NH residents without dementia than in those with (p = 0.05). Antipsychotics, laxatives, benzodiazepines, antiplatelets, and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) were most commonly prescribed in patients with dementia, and PPIs, benzodiazepines, and laxatives in those without. The prevalence of patients with potentially severe drug-drug interactions was higher among those without dementia, 1216 (64.7%) and 518 (74.2%, p < 0.0001). There were significant differences between the mean numbers of drugs prescribed in individual NH after adjusting the analysis for age, sex, and mean Charlson index, the estimated mean number of drugs prescribed (± standard error) ranging from 5.1 (± 0.3) to 9.3 (± 0.3) in patients with dementia (p < 0.0001) and from 6.0 (± 0.7) to 10.9 (± 0.50) in those without dementia (p < 0.0001). Chronic use of psychotropic drugs was common in NH residents with and without dementia.
CONCLUSIONS: The wide variability between NHs in drug prescriptions and potentially inappropriate prescribing suggests the need to recommend a standardized approach to medication review of psychotropic drugs, antiulcer, laxatives, and antiplatelets in this complex and vulnerable population.