OBJECTIVES - To evaluate the effects of an educational program to reduce antipsychotic use in nursing homes that had high use rates post-OBRA-87 and to identify factors that predicted antipsychotic withdrawal or 50% or greater dose reduction.
DESIGN/SETTING - A randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the educational program (nursing home the unit of randomization and analysis) was conducted in 12 Tennessee nursing homes (6 education/6 control). Cohort analysis in baseline antipsychotic users identified factors predicting withdrawal or dose reduction.
SUBJECTS - The RCT analysis included 1152 patients in the homes at baseline and 6 months. The cohort analysis included 133 baseline antipsychotic users in the five education homes able to implement the recommendations of the educational program.
OUTCOME MEASURES - Change in days of antipsychotic use per 100 days of nursing home residence, withdrawal from antipsychotics, reduction in antipsychotic dose by 50% or more.
RESULTS - Following the educational intervention, use of antipsychotics in the six education homes decreased from 25.3 days per 100 at baseline to 19.7 days per 100 by month 6, a 23% reduction relative to control homes (P = .014). In the withdrawal analysis, 44 (33%) of 133 baseline antipsychotic users were withdrawn. Factors at baseline predicting successful withdrawal were low antipsychotic dose, no use of benzodiazepines or antidepressants, and behavioral symptoms score below the median. However, although an additional 22 patients had dose reductions > or = 50%, none of the predictors of withdrawal were associated with dose reductions.
CONCLUSIONS - Focused provider education programs may facilitate antipsychotic reduction above and beyond that attributable to regulatory changes. Patients who are poor candidates for total antipsychotic withdrawal may tolerate substantial dose reductions, which should reduce their risk of adverse antipsychotic effects.