Background: Antipsychotic medications are commonly prescribed to nursing home residents despite their well-established adverse event profiles. Because little is known about their use in Veterans Affairs (VA) nursing homes [ie, Community Living Centers (CLCs)], we assessed the prevalence and risk factors for antipsychotic use in older residents of VA CLCs.
Methods: This cross-sectional study included 3692 Veterans age 65 or older who were admitted between January 2004 and June 2005 to one of 133 VA CLCs and had a stay of ≥90 days. We used VA Pharmacy Benefits Management data to examine antipsychotic use and VA Medical SAS datasets and the Minimum Data Set to identify evidence-based indications for antipsychotic use (eg, schizophrenia, dementia with psychosis). We used multivariable logistic regression and generalized estimating equations to identify factors independently associated with antipsychotic receipt.
Results: Overall, 948/3692(25.7%) residents received an antipsychotic, of which 59.3% had an evidence-based indication for use. Residents with aggressive behavior [odds ratio (OR)=2.74, 95% confidence interval (CI), 2.04–3.67] and polypharmacy (9+ drugs; OR=1.84, 95% CI, 1.41–2.40) were more likely to receive antipsychotics, as were users of antidepressants (OR=1.37, 95% CI, 1.14–1.66), anxiolytic/hypnotics (OR=2.30, 95% CI, 1.64–3.23), or drugs for dementia (OR=1.52, 95% CI, 1.21–1.92). Those residing in Alzheimer/dementia special care units were also more likely to receive an antipsychotic (OR=1.66, 95% CI, 1.26–2.21). Veterans with dementia but no documented psychosis were as likely as those with an evidence-based indication to receive an antipsychotic (OR=1.10, 95% CI, 0.82–1.47).
Conclusions: Antipsychotic use is common among VA nursing home residents aged 65 and older, including those without a documented evidence-based indication for use. Further quality improvement efforts are needed to reduce potentially inappropriate antipsychotic prescribing.