Quick antipsychotic withdrawal OK: study

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A small Belgian study of people with dementia on low-dose antipsychotics found that abrupt stoppage of the medication, rather than tapering, is a possible solution. Eighty-five percent of 40 patients who stopped abruptly were fine a month later.

“Abrupt discontinuation appears to be feasible,” said Majda Azermai, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University Hospital, who presented her findings at the International Nursing Home Research Conference in November. Belgium has a high rate of chronic antipsychotic use among patients with dementia, she said.

“We wanted to see feasibility for reduction,” Azermai said. “When I explained what the drugs do [to residents] to their families, they were saying, ‘We are willing.'”

The exploratory study results were published in September in Aging and Mental Health. Her work also was in a Cochrane Database of Systematic Review. Azermai's colleagues, Tinne Dilles, BN, RN, MScN, and Jolyce Bourgeois, also presented at the conference on interventions to allow nurses to contribute to drug monitoring, and on stopping benzodiazepines in nursing homes, respectively.