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Dementia-related neuropsychiatric symptoms: inequalities in pharmacological treatment and institutionalization

Authors Mar J, Arrospide A, Soto-Gordoa M, Iruin Á, Tainta M, Gabilondo A, Mar-Barrutia L, Calvo M, Mateos M, Ibarrondo O

Received 17 March 2019

Accepted for publication 24 June 2019

Published 17 July 2019 Volume 2019:15 Pages 2027—2034


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Javier Mar,1–4 Arantzazu Arrospide,2–4 Myriam Soto-Gordoa,5 Álvaro Iruin,4,6 Mikel Tainta,7,8 Andrea Gabilondo,4,6 Lore Mar-Barrutia,9 Montserrat Calvo,10 Maider Mateos,10 Oliver Ibarrondo2,4

1Clinical Management Unit, OSI Alto Deba, Arrasate-Mondragón, España; 2AP-OSIs Gipuzkoa Research Unit, OSI Alto Deba, Arrasate-Mondragón, España; 3Economic Evaluation Department, Health Services Research on Chronic Patients Network (REDISSEC), Bilbao, Spain; 4Economic Evaluation Department, Biodonostia Health Research Institute, Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain; 5Departamento de Ingeniería de Organización, Mondragón Unibertsitatea, Arrasate-Mondragón, España; 6Psychiatry Service, Gipuzkoa Mental Health Network, Donostia-San Sebastián, España; 7Psychiatry Service, CITA Alzheimer Foundation, Donostia-San Sebastián, España; 8Neurology Service, OSI Goierri-Alto Urola, Zumárraga, España; 9Psychiatry Service, Hospital Bellvitge, Hospitalet de Llobregat, España; 10Health Department, Basque Government, Vitoria-Gasteiz, España

Background: Dementia-related neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) are the main determinant of family stress and institutionalization of patients. This study aimed to identify inequalities by gender and socioeconomic status in the management of NPS in patients diagnosed with dementia.
Methods: An observational study was carried out to study all the cases of dementia in the corporate database of the Basque Health Service (29,864 patients). The prescription of antipsychotics and antidepressants and admission to a nursing home were used to establish the presence of NPS. The socioeconomic status of individuals was classified by a deprivation index. Logistic regressions were used to identify drivers for drug prescriptions and institutionalization.
Results: NPS are poorly recorded in the clinical databases (12%). Neuropsychiatric symptoms were severe enough in two thirds of patients with dementia to be treated with psychoactive medication. Institutionalization showed an increase from those who did not receive medication to those who had been prescribed antidepressants (OR: 1.546), antipsychotics (OR: 2.075) or both (OR: 2.741). The resulting inequalities were the increased prescription of antidepressant drugs in women and more nursing-home admissions for women who were the least socioeconomically deprived and men who were the most deprived.
Conclusions: In large clinical databases, psychoactive drugs prescriptions can be useful to underscore the considerable burden of dementia-related NPS. Specific tools are needed to monitor social and health care programs targeted to dementia-related NPS from a population perspective. Programs aimed at reducing the family burden of care of dementia patients at home become the key elements in reducing inequalities in these patients’ care. Socioeconomic status is the most important driver of inequality, and gender inequality may simply be hidden within the social environment. Integrated programs boosting the continuity of care are an objective for which compliance could be measured according to the NPS coding in the electronic health record.

Keywords: neuropsychiatric symptoms, prevalence, dementia, antidepressant drugs, antipsychotic drugs, nursing home, inequalities, deprivation index

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