Evaluation of psychotropic drug consumption related to psychological distress in the elderly: Hospitalized vs. nonhospitalized

R. M. Antonijoan, M. J. Barbanoj, J. Torrent, F. Jané

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The use of psychotropic drugs in general has become more extended in the past 20 years. The elderly, particularly geriatric inpatients, are the group with the highest consumption. The aim of the present study was to evaluate in two groups of elderly, hospitalized patients (H) vs. nonhospitalized subjects (nH), psychotropic drug consumption related to psychological distress. This was carried out in a total 238 subjects aged above 65 years (112 geriatric inpatients and 126 interviewed in social welfare centers). Sociodemographic, clinical and pharmacological data, general health and psychological distress were evaluated. The latter was assessed by means of the Symptom Distress Checklist (SCL-90) which included 9 subscales. 23% of the subjects received psychotropic drugs (P), of which 84% were benzodiazepines, 10% antidepressants and 1.5% antipsychotics. After evaluating the SCL-90 subscales, it was noted that anxiety, depression and obsessiveness/compulsiveness scored higher in P subjects than in those not receiving psychotropic drugs (nP). When treated nH and H were analyzed separately, it was observed that the former scored higher in anxiety and depression, while the latter showed higher scores in anxiety and obsessiveness/compulsiveness. Considered globally, the H group compared to nH showed higher scores in depression. Although evaluating psychotropic drug utilization in geriatric patients is complex due to the large number of influencing factors, SCL-90 has proved to be useful for assessing the qualitative aspects of this drug consumption in the elderly. © 1990 S. Karger AG, Basel.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-30
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1990


  • Drug utilization
  • Elderly
  • Psychological distress
  • Psychotropic drugs


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