Lower Education Linked to Higher Antipsychotic Use in Swedish Elderly

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Elderly people in Sweden are five times more likely to be taking antipsychotics if they have a diagnosis of dementia, according to research published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. And among those people with dementia, the lower their education the higher the likelihood they’re taking antipsychotics.

The Stockholm University researchers obtained information on antipsychotics, dementia status, and educational level for 641,566 people aged 75–89 in Sweden in 2005.

According to an editorial accompanying the study, “Wastesson et al. report that the prevalence of antipsychotic use was 15.6% in people with dementia with >12 years education, 20.4% in people with 9–12 years education and 22.2% in people with

The editorial described the results as “intriguing,” especially in light of Sweden’s public health care system. They wondered if the link might be associated with other aspects of socio-economic disparity, or if “more highly educated people may be more likely to ask questions about their medications.”

“This finding highlights the importance of investigating healthcare inequalities also among cognitively impaired older adults,” concluded the study researchers.

(Abstract) Educational disparities in antipsychotic drug use among older people with and without dementia in Sweden (Wastesson, J. W. et al. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. Article first published online December 22, 2014. DOI: 10.1111/acps.12378)

(Full text) Why are more highly educated people with dementia less likely to be prescribed antipsychotics? (Bell J. S. et al. Why are more highly educated people with dementia less likely to be prescribed antipsychotics? Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. Article first published online December 22, 2014. DOI: 10.1111/acps.12377)

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