Nurses’, Pharmacists’ and Family Physicians’ Perceptions of Psychotropic Medication Monitoring in Australian Long-Term Care Facilities: A Qualitative Framework Analysis

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Current evidence suggests that despite modest benefit in using targeted psychotropic medications in the geriatric population, there is significant iatrogenic morbidity and mortality. Monitoring of the use of psychotropic medications by health care professionals (HCPs) to reduce adverse effects is often suboptimal; however, there have been few theoretically informed studies as to why this is so. Objective: This study aimed to elucidate facilitators and barriers to psychotropic medication monitoring in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) from the viewpoint of nurses, pharmacists and family physicians. Secondly, it intended to identify targets for tailored intervention strategies to improve monitoring practices. Methods: A purposive sample of 31 HCPs working in LTCFs in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia was recruited. Three cohorts consisted of twelve registered nurses, ten pharmacists and nine family physicians. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, assessing perceptions of psychotropic medication monitoring in LTCFs, facilitators, barriers and proposed solutions. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and thematically analyzed through an inductive coding approach. Themes were then mapped to Ferlie and Shortell’s ‘Four Levels of Change’ framework for improving quality in healthcare. Results: Monitoring was revealed as a multi-faceted concept, influenced by factors across individual, group, organization and system levels. Thematic analysis revealed six key themes pertinent to psychotropic monitoring in LTCFs: (1) engagement with monitoring, (2) monitoring capability, (3) opportunity to monitor, (4) roles and responsibilities, (5) communication and collaboration and (6) guidance and regulation. HCPs conceptualized monitoring differently, but consistently felt that monitoring in LTCFs was suboptimal, recognizing a need for guidance and resources to aid collaborative monitoring of psychotropic medications. HCPs internally situated within LTCFs (nurses) viewed psychotropic medication monitoring as a dynamic and ongoing phenomenon, occurring both formally and informally on a day-to-day basis. In contrast, externally situated HCPs (pharmacists and family physicians) typically associated medication monitoring with structured medication reviews and conceptualized monitoring as an intermittent and planned activity. Conclusions and Implications: Psychotropic monitoring is perceived by all HCPs as a shared responsibility; however, the conceptualization of monitoring differs between HCPs. HCPs’ beliefs and attitudes require consideration when designing implementation strategies for interventions to ameliorate suboptimal monitoring practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-179
Number of pages11
JournalDrugs & Aging
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

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