Patterns of psychotropic drug prescriptions and general practice consultations among community-dwelling older people with dementia during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic

Jiamin Du, Huibert Burger, Thijmen Kupers, Karina Sulim, Maarten T Homburg, Jean W M Muris, Tim C Olde Hartman, Sytse U Zuidema, Lilian L Peters, Sarah I M Janus*

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

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BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures had serious implications for community-dwelling older people with dementia. While the short-term impacts of the pandemic on this population have been well studied, there is limited research on its long-term impacts. Quantifying the long-term impacts may provide insights into whether healthcare adaptations are needed after the acute phase of the pandemic to balance infection prevention measures with healthcare provision. This study aims to examine patterns of psychotropic drug prescriptions and general practice consultations in community-dwelling older people with dementia during the first two years of the pandemic.

METHODS: We utilised routine electronic health records from three Dutch academic general practice research networks located in the North, East, and South, between 2019 and 2021. We (1) compared the weekly prescription rates of five groups of psychotropic drugs and two groups of tracer drugs, and weekly general practice consultation rates per 1000 participants, between the first two years of the pandemic and the pre-pandemic phase, (2) calculated changes in these rates during three lockdowns and two relaxation phases relative to the corresponding weeks in 2019, and (3) employed interrupted time series analyses for the prescription rates. Analyses were performed for each region separately.

RESULTS: The study population sizes in the North, East, and South between 2019 and 2021 were 1726 to 1916, 93 to 117, and 904 to 960, respectively. Data from the East was excluded from the statistical analyses due to the limited sample size. During the first two years of the pandemic, the prescription rates of psychotropic drugs were either lower or similar to those in the pre-pandemic phase, with differences varying from -2.6‰ to -10.2‰. In contrast, consultation rates during the pandemic were higher than in the pre-pandemic phase, increasing by around 38‰.

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates a decrease in psychotropic drug prescriptions, but an increase in general practice consultations among community-dwelling older people with dementia during the first two years of the pandemic. However, reasons for the decrease in psychotropic drug prescriptions are unclear due to limited information on the presence of neuropsychiatric symptoms and the appropriateness of prescribing.

Originele taal-2English
Artikelnummer120
Aantal pagina's14
TijdschriftBMC Geriatrics
Volume24
Nummer van het tijdschrift1
DOI's
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 1-feb.-2024

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