Measuring the impact of system level strategies on psychotropic medicine use in aged care facilities: A scoping review

Aili V. Langford, Timothy F. Chen, Chris Roberts, Carl R. Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Psychotropic medication use in the elderly population is associated with significant adverse effects. Robust evidence for the efficacy of psychotropic medications for behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia is lacking. Despite national bodies, governments, and policymakers employing interventions to optimise the use of psychotropic medicines in this population, there is little research on their overall impact. 

Objective: To identify and categorise system level strategies that have been implemented internationally and assess their impact on psychotropic medicine use in aged care facilities. 

Methods: A systematic search of health-related databases including Medline, Embase, CINAHL, Web of Science and Scopus was performed. Empirical studies published in English prior to March 2019 that reported on the impact of system level strategies on psychotropic medicine use in aged care facilities were included. Studies were mapped to the RE-AIM (Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, Maintenance) framework to measure impact and were assessed for risk of bias. 

Results: This review identified 36 studies which examined mandatory (n = 22) and non-mandatory (n = 14) system level strategies. The impact of strategies was highly dependent on implementation as well as organisational and patient factors. Mandatory strategies had greater evidence of impact on drug utilisation patterns compared to non-mandatory strategies which primarily focussed on adoption and implementation, rather than outcomes. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act 1987 (OBRA-87) in the United States of America had the greatest reach and implementation of the interventions examined, with an observed reduction in psychotropic medicine use post-implementation. There was no substantive body of evidence reporting on the sustainability of strategies or the influence of cost on outcomes. 

Conclusions: Despite the implementation of system level strategies, psychotropic medicine use in aged care facilities remains problematic. There is a need for revised or novel system level strategies which consider sustainability, economic influences and patient outcomes in their design and implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)746-759
Number of pages14
JournalResearch in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Aged care facilities
  • Guideline
  • Health policy
  • Psychotropic
  • Regulation

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