Initiation of Psycholeptic Medication During Hospitalization With Recommendation for Discontinuation After Discharge

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Objectives: Psycholeptic drugs have been used in the older population for years, especially to control delirium and neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) of dementia. However, data from the literature confirm that the prolonged use of psycholeptics may be responsible for adverse reactions in older patients. The aim of this study was (1) to identify how many patients receive the first prescription of a psycholeptic drug during the hospital stay; (2) to evaluate the main sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of these patients; and (3) to verify if the prescribed psycholeptic drugs are continued after 3 months from the hospital discharge. Design: Our retrospective study was based on data from the REPOSI (REgistro POliterapie SIMI) registry, a cohort of older patients hospitalized in internal medicine and geriatric wards throughout Italy from 2010 to 2018. Setting and Participants: Patients aged 65 years or older who were not on home therapy with psycholeptic drugs were considered in the analyses. Methods: We did both univariate and multivariate analyses in order to find the variables associated independently to an increased risk for first psycholeptic prescription at hospital discharge. Results: At hospital discharge, 193 patients (5.8%) out of a total sample of 3322 patients were prescribed at least 1 psycholeptic drug. Cognitive impairment was the main risk factor for the introduction of psycholeptic drugs at discharge. Among them, 89.1% were still on therapy with a psycholeptic drug after 3 months from the hospital discharge. Conclusions and Implications: Cognitive impairment represents the main risk factor for psycholeptic initiation in hospitalized older patients. The vast majority of these treatments are chronically continued after the discharge. Therefore, special attention is needed in prescribing psycholeptics at discharge, because their prolonged use may lead to cognitive decline. Moreover, their continued use should be questioned by physicians providing post-acute care, and deprescribing should be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-100.e5
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • delirium
  • dementia
  • deprescribing
  • hospitalization
  • older patients
  • Psycholeptics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Health Policy
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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