Reducing Antipsychotic Medication Use in Nursing Homes: A Qualitative Study of Nursing Staff Perceptions

Background and Objectives:

The purpose of this study was to use qualitative methods to explore nursing home staff perceptions of antipsychotic medication use and identify both benefits and barriers to reducing inappropriate use from their perspective.

Research Design and Methods:

Focus groups were conducted with a total of 29 staff in three community nursing homes that served both short and long-stay resident populations.



The majority (69%) of the staff participants were licensed nurses. Participants expressed many potential benefits of antipsychotic medication reduction with four primary themes:

(a) Improvement in quality of life,

(b) Improvement in family satisfaction,

(c) Reduction in falls, and

(d) Improvement in the facility Quality Indicator score (regulatory compliance).

Participants also highlighted important barriers they face when attempting to reduce or withdraw antipsychotic medications including:

(a) Family resistance,

(b) Potential for worsening or return of symptoms or behaviors,

c) Lack of effectiveness and/or lack of staff resources to consistently implement nonpharmacological management strategies, and

(d) Risk aversion of staff and environmental safety concerns.

Discussion and Implications:

Nursing home staff recognize the value of reducing antipsychotic medications; however, they also experience multiple barriers to reduction in routine clinical practice.

Achievement of further reductions in antipsychotic medication use will require significant additional efforts and adequate clinical personnel to address these barriers.

Connie’s comments : Family members must evaluate effectiveness and side effects of meds. It is easy for nursing homes to give Antipsychotic meds to calm the patient.

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