Study Affirms Link Between Psychotropic Medicines and Fall Risk

November 30, 2016
Perry Gwen Meyers,

Falls are a serious threat to the health and safety of older Americans and can have consequences ranging from bruises to head trauma. Now a new study, published in JAMDA – The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, suggests that the risk of falling is increased when a nursing home resident is taking psychotropic drugs.

According to “Psychotropic Drug Prescription and the Risk of Falls in Nursing Home Residents,” a prescription of psychotropic drugs was associated with an increased risk of falls. The study involved 2,368 residents in 9 nursing homes in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

Over 1,600 (68.8%) residents had a prescription of at least 1 psychotropic drug per day. Another 8.8% had an as-needed prescription. Researchers found that 794 residents (33.5%) had at least 1 fall, most of which occurred on days when a psychotropic drug was prescribed on a scheduled basis. The fall risk of male residents was almost 2 times higher than that of female residents. Antipsychotics and antidepressants were associated with an increased fall risk. There was no correlation between fall incidence and benzodiazepines.

Previous research has found that antipsychotics and antidepressants are associated with an increased fall risk. However, this study also found a statistically significant association between fall incidence and the prescription of antipsychotics and antidepressants on an as-needed basis only, which has not been examined before.

The study was conducted by researchers in the Department of Geriatrics, Catharina Hospital; Maastricht University (Health, Medicine and Life Sciences); and the Department of Geriatrics, Vlietland Hospital, all in the Netherlands. For more information on all of the findings above, and more, click here. To contact the researchers or JAMDA Editor for interview contact