Elderly patients treated with psychotropic medicines admitted to hospital: associated characteristics and inappropriate use

Xavier Vidal, Antonia Agustí, Antoni Vallano, Francesc Formiga, Antonio Fernández Moyano, Juana García, Alfonso López-Soto, Nieves Ramírez-Duque, Olga H. Torres, José Barbé, Antonio San-José

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Purpose: The purpose of this study is to describe the characteristics of older patients treated with psychotropic medicines and the associated factors and to assess their inappropriate use. Methods: An observational, prospective study was carried out in 672 elderly patients admitted to seven hospitals for a year. A comparison of sociodemographic characteristics, geriatric variables, multimorbidity and the number of prescribed medicines taken in the preceding month before hospitalization between patients treated with psychotropics and those not treated was performed. To assess factors associated with psychotropics, multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed. Inappropriate use was assessed using the Beers and the STOPP criteria. Results: A total of 57.5 % patients (median [Q1–Q3] age 81.7 [78.2–86.1], 65.7 % female) were treated with psychotropics (44.2 % anxiolytics, 22.6 % antidepressants and 10.8 % antipsychotics). Independent factors associated with the use of psychotropics were female gender (OR = 2.3; CI 95 %,1.6–3.5), some degree of disability on admission (slight [OR = 2.2; 1.2–4.2], moderate [OR = 3.2, 1.6–6.6], severe [OR = 3.4; 1.4–8] and very severe [OR = 5.1; 2.0–12.8]) and polypharmacy (5–9 medicines [OR = 3.0; 1.3–6.9] and ≥10 medicines [OR = 6.0; 2.7–13.6]). The associated factors varied depending on the different types of psychotropics. In patients treated with psychotropics, the percentage of those with at least one Beers (61.6 %) or at least one STOPP (71.4 %) criteria was significantly higher in comparison with those not treated with psychotropics (30.7 and 47.7 %, respectively, p < 0.001). Conclusions: Psychotropics are widely used in the elderly population and often their use is inappropriate. Female gender, a poor functional status and polypharmacy, are the characteristics linked to their use. Interventional strategies should be focused on patients with these characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-764
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Anxiolytics or hypnotic-sedatives
  • Polypharmacy
  • Potentially inappropriate medicines
  • Psychotropic medicines


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