Psychotropic drugs, including antipsychotics and antidepressants, can increase the risk of falls among nursing home residents, a recently published study asserts.

Previous research has shown a link between psychotropic prescriptions and falls in nursing home residents, but little was known of how as-needed prescriptions impacted fall rates. The study, published in the December issue of JAMDA – The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine by Dutch researchers, not only backed up earlier research, but found a relationship between falls and drugs taken on an as-needed basis as well.

Of the 2,368 nursing home residents in the study, nearly 70% had a prescription for at least one psychotropic drug per day. An additional 8.8% had an as-needed psychotropic prescription. The study’s authors found that 33.5% of residents had at least one fall, which most often occurred on days when a psychotropic drug was prescribed on a scheduled basis.

Residents receiving the drugs on a scheduled basis had a nearly threefold increase in falls. An increase in fall incidence also was noted in residents prescribed the drugs on an as-needed basis. Results of the study also showed that male residents had a fall risk nearly two times higher than female residents.

Study results showed no link between fall incidence and the prescription of benzodiazepines, drugs commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia, the authors noted.