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Management of psychotropic medications in adults with intellectual disability: a scoping review

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-11-28, 09:41 authored by Ashley Costello, Eithne Hudson, Susan Morrissey, Drona Sharma, DERVLA KELLYDERVLA KELLY, Owen DoodyOwen Doody

Background/objective(s): Psychotropic medications are commonly prescribed among adults with intellectual disability, often in the absence of a psychiatric diagnosis. The aim of this scop?ing review is to provide an overview of the extent, range, and nature of the available research on medication use and practices and medication management in people with intellectual disability taking psychotropic medications for behaviours that challenge. Materials and methods: A scoping review of research studies (qualitative, quantitative, and mixed design) and Grey Literature (English) was carried out. Databases included: Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, JBI Evidence Synthesis, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, PsycINFO, and Scopus. A three-step search strategy was followed, with results screened by two independent reviewers. Data was extracted inde?pendently by two reviewers using a data extraction tool with results mapped and presented using a narrative form supported by tables and diagrams to the research questions. Results: Following the removal of duplicates, records were screened, full texts assessed, and 49 studies were included. Medication outcomes included reduced repetitive, stereotypic, and/or aggressive behaviours. High dosing/prescribing in the setting of an absent/unclear clinical indi?cation was associated with worsening of symptoms for which psychotropics were prescribed. While psychotropics had a role in managing behaviours that challenge, reducing or discontinu?ing psychotropics is sometimes warranted. Study designs were frequently pragmatic resulting in small sample sizes and heterogeneous cohorts receiving different doses and combinations of medications. Access to multidisciplinary teams, guidelines, medication reviews, staff training, and enhanced roles for carers in decision-making were warranted to optimize psychotropic use. Conclusions: These findings can inform prescribing interventions and highlight the need for timely and comprehensive patient outcome data, especially on long-term use of high doses of psychotropics and what happens when reduce or stop prescribing these doses. 


Irish Research Council New Foundations



Annals of Medicine 54(1), pp.2486–2499


Taylor & Francis

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Student scholarship from the School of Medicine, University of Limerick

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