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Prevalence of psychotropic medication use among German and Austrian nursing home residents: a comparison of 3 cohorts


Richter, Tanja, Mann, Eva, Meyer, Gabriele, Haastert, Burkhard, Köpke, Sascha


Journal Of The American Medical Directors Association, Volume: 13, No.: 2, Pages.: 187.e7-187.e13

Year of Publication



Background: Despite increasing knowledge about the limited effectiveness and severe adverse effects, the prescription rate of psychotropic medications in frail elderly persons remains high. Prescriptions are mainly made to control behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, although factors associated with prescriptions are rarely reported. However, such information is a prerequisite to develop intervention programs aiming to safely reduce psychotropic medication in nursing home residents.; Methods: We report the comparison of cross-sectional data of psychotropic medication prescription rates from 3 large studies including nursing home residents in Germany and Austria. We aimed to compare the prevalence of (1) psychotropic medication, (2) different classes of psychotropic medication, (3) psychotropic medication administered for bedtime use, and (4) associations between prescription of psychotropics and institutional and residents’ characteristics. Confidence intervals of prevalences and multiple logistic regression analyses were adjusted for cluster correlation.; Results: Data from 5336 residents in 136 long term care facilities were included. In Austria, 74.6% (95% CI 72.0-77.2%) of all residents had a prescription of at least one psychotropic medication compared to Germany with about 51.8% (95% CI 48.3-55.2%) and 52.4% (95% CI 48.7-56.1%). Of all antipsychotics, 66% (Austria) and 47% (Germany) were prescribed for bedtime use. Most prescriptions were conventional, low-potency antipsychotics. In all 3 studies, there was no statistically significant association between psychotropic medication prescription and nursing home characteristics. On the level of residents, consistent positive associations were found for higher level of care dependency and permanent restlessness. Consistent negative associations were found for older age and male gender.; Conclusion: Frequency of psychotropic and especially antipsychotic medication is substantial in nursing home residents in Germany and Austria. The high number of prescriptions is likely to be an indicator for a perceived or actual lack of strategies to handle behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia.; Copyright © 2012 American Medical Directors Association, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Bibtex Citation

@article{Richter_2012, doi = {10.1016/j.jamda.2011.03.007}, url = {}, year = 2012, month = {feb}, publisher = {Elsevier {BV}}, volume = {13}, number = {2}, pages = {187.e7--187.e13}, author = {Tanja Richter and Eva Mann and Gabriele Meyer and Burkhard Haastert and Sascha Köpke}, title = {Prevalence of Psychotropic Medication Use among German and Austrian Nursing Home Residents: A Comparison of 3 Cohorts}, journal = {Journal of the American Medical Directors Association} }


adverse effects, age distribution, aged, aged, 80 and over, austria, cluster analysis, dementia, diagnosis, drug administration schedule, drug therapy, drug utilization, epidemiology, female, geriatric assessment, germany, handling, homes for the aged, humans, identification, logistic models, long term care, male, medication, nursing homes, of, poor, prevalence, psychotropic drugs, risk assessment, sex distribution, statistics & numerical data, symptoms, therapeutic use, through, use

Countries of Study

Austria, Germany

Types of Dementia

Dementia (general / unspecified)

Types of Study

Cohort Study, Cost and service use study

Type of Outcomes

Service use or cost reductions (incl. hospital use reduction, care home admission delay)


Nursing Homes

Type of Interventions

Diagnostic Target Identification

Diagnostic Targets


Pharmaceutical Interventions

Antipsychotics and antidepressants