Last updated on March 2019

Deprescribing Antipsychotics in Long-Term Care


Brief description of study

Aggressive behaviours in long-term care (LTC) is a difficult health care issue to manage. One method that has been over-used is the prescription of antipsychotics for the behaviours and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). This high prevalence of use is a recognized health care problem in Ontario and around the world; increased antipsychotics use is associated with increased falls and mortality. Existing strategies are educational in nature and are not systematic; the goal of this study is to develop a systematic algorithm to help LTC physicians deprescribe and taper antipsychotics safely and effectively.

The objectives of the study is to: 1) Develop a discontinuation algorithm for antipsychotics based on single patient open-label (SPOT) trial methodology (e.g. a variation of N-of-1 trials) with standardized outcome measures for LTC physicians; 2) To pilot a clinical pharmacist-led recruitment strategy; 3) To provide preliminary evidence to demonstrate that this algorithm could lead to deprescribing of anti-psychotic medications in LTC.

Detailed Study Description

This pilot study will consist of enrolling long-term care (LTC) patients to a 12-week, single-patient, open-label, randomized multiple crossover trial consisting of 2 different treatment blocks (Block A, Block B) of 3 weeks duration each.

This study is targeting LTC residents in two Hamilton LTC facilities associated with MediSystem pharmacy. Once potential participants have been identified by the clinical pharmacist working at these two facilities, a invitation letter with a consent letter will be sent to the LTC resident's power of attorney for health care (POA-HC) describing the study and inviting them to complete the mail back the consent form. POA-HCs will be provided with contact information of the research assistant associated with the study in order to have any of their questions answered.

Once consent is received, the LTC patient will be assigned a randomized 1:1 treatment sequence of Block A (denoted by "A") and Block B (denoted by "B"). For example, Patient1 may be assigned the treatment sequence AABB, while Patient2 may be assigned the treatment sequence BAAB, and so on. The patient will then take a pre-determined dose, DOSE-A, of the antipsychotic that has been agreed upon between the physician and the POA-HC at time of enrolment during Block A. This pre-determined dose will be less than the current dose the LTC patient is taking at the time of enrolment. Similarly, the LTC patient will take DOSE-B, a second pre-determined dose of the antipsychotic that is different than the starting dose or DOSE-A, will be taken during Block B.

At the end of the 12-week study, LTC physicians will be given a report which describes and summarizes the outcome measures for each participating LTC patient. This report will be reviewed together with the POA-HC in order to make a clinical decision together on whether to continue using the antipsychotic medication, or whether a decreased or discontinued dose is more appropriate. After this decision, a six-month prospective chart review will be done to determine whether the clinical decision resulting from the 12-week study persisted. If a subsequent change does occur during this six-month prospective time period, the reason and rationale for the change will be recorded.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT02958800

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Recruitment Status: Open


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