Psychotropic Use Among Older Residents of Board and Care Facilities

Diana Spore, Brown University
Vincent Mor, Brown University
Jeffrey Hiris, Brown University
E. Paul Larrat, University of Rhode Island
Catherine Hawes, RTI International


OBJECTIVE: To describe patterns of psychotropic use as well as clinically relevant and concurrent nonpsychotropic use among older residents of board and care facilities in 10 states. METHODS: Weighted use rates were based on data from a sample of 2054 residents aged 65 and older from 410 facilities in 10 states, drawn via a complex, multistage sampling design. Data, including drug name, use frequency, and PRN use, were collected on all drugs taken by the resident during a 7‐day period. During face‐to‐face interviews with residents and/or proxies, data were also collected on resident characteristics. SUBJECTS: The majority of subjects were female, white, and widowed. Average age was 82 years. Approximately 25% had a current mental or emotional condition, and 8% had been hospitalized for a psychiatric condition during the year before admission. More than half needed help with at least one activity of daily living. Forty percent had moderate or severe cognitive impairment, and 18% had received mental health care during the previous year. ANALYSES: Weighted descriptive analyses were performed with Software for Survey Data Analysis (SUDAAN), which accounts for the complex, multistage sampling design. RESULTS: Approximately 35% of the older residents used at least one psychoactive agent, with 30% of psychotropic users receiving two to four different psychotropic medications. Use rates decline with age, for psychotropics overall and for therapeutic classes. Results revealed potentially problematic polypharmacy in relation to drug duplication within therapeutic classes, use of multiple psychotropics across classes, and concurrent nonpsychotropic use. CONCLUSIONS: Compared with community‐dwelling older adults, this study revealed high psychotropic use rates among older board and care facility residents. Overall, our results suggest that serious consideration be given to the apparent need for systematic drug utilization review, a potentially useful program that is mandated in other settings. 1995 The American Geriatrics Society