A physically and mentally active lifestyle can slow familial frontotemporal dementia
As they did not identify differences in rates of an initial prescription of antipsychotics, the researchers say the findings may reflect differences in the likelihood of medication being reviewed and stopped when no longer needed.
"Rates of antipsychotic prescribing in all ethnic groups exceeded recommendations for treating the often very distressing behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, such as agitation or challenging behaviors, which are the most common reasons antipsychotic drugs are prescribed to people living with dementia," explained Professor Cooper.
"While there has been a very sharp reduction in antipsychotic prescribing in the UK over the past 10 years, these figures suggest there is still work to do to ensure that people with dementia only receive potentially harmful antipsychotic drugs if there are no acceptable alternatives."
Dr Mary Elizabeth Jones (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care), first author of the study, commented:
While we have yet to find out whether taking antipsychotic drugs for a few weeks more increases the associated risks, which can include falls, cognitive decline, strokes and even death, it's a potentially significant inequality which we should take seriously. More work may need to be done to ensure that guidelines are being consistently met, and that dementia services are culturally competent."
Co-author Professor Jill Manthorpe of the NIHR Health & Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King's College London, said that health professionals should question whether antipsychotic drugs are being prescribed instead of other forms of support that could address causes of the distressing symptoms.
"Families too should ask if there are other alternatives such as social prescribing that may put people in contact with activities and sensory experiences which may help reduce feelings of distress. Culturally meaningful activities may be particularly helpful, such as hearing or playing music or enjoying the experience of tactile objects," she said.
A previous study also led by Professor Cooper found that dementia rates are higher among black people compared to the UK average, and ethnic minority groups may be less likely to be diagnosed in a timely manner. She has also led a study finding that women with dementia have fewer GP visits, receive less health monitoring and take more potentially harmful medication than men with dementia. Source:
University College London Journal reference:
Jones, M.E., et al. (2019) Differences in Psychotropic Drug Prescribing Between Ethnic Groups of People with Dementia in the United Kingdom. Clinical Epidemiology . doi.org/10.2147/CLEP.S222126 .
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