The prescribing of psychotropic drugs by primary care physicians: an international collaborative study

Linden, M., Lecrubier, Y., Bellantuono, C., Benkert, O., Kisely, S. and Simon, G. (1999) The prescribing of psychotropic drugs by primary care physicians: an international collaborative study. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, 19 2: 132-140. doi:10.1097/00004714-199904000-00007

Author Linden, M.
Lecrubier, Y.
Bellantuono, C.
Benkert, O.
Kisely, S.
Simon, G.
Title The prescribing of psychotropic drugs by primary care physicians: an international collaborative study
Journal name Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0271-0749
Publication date 1999-04
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1097/00004714-199904000-00007
Volume 19
Issue 2
Start page 132
End page 140
Total pages 9
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Sage
Language eng
Abstract Psychotropic drugs play a major role in primary care management of mental disorders. This study expands the existing data on prescribing practices using data from a 15-center, primary care epidemiologic survey. Questions to be addressed include the following: Which clinical and nonclinical factors are related to the prescribing of psychotropic drugs by primary care physicians? How do prescribing patterns vary across primary care centers? At each center, primary care patients were screened using the General Health Questionnaire, and a stratified random sample completed a standardized diagnostic assessment. For each patient completing the diagnostic assessment, the treating primary care physician provided data on clinical diagnosis and medications prescribed. Study results indicated that 11.5% of all practice attenders, 51.7% of cases who received a diagnosis of mental disorders by a physician, and 27.6% of cases who received a diagnosis using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview were treated with psychotropic medication because of their psychologic problems. Anxiolytics, hypnotics, and antidepressants each accounted for approximately 20% of all prescriptions. Prescription rates increased with the prominence of psychologic complaints, severity of mental disorder, severity of social disability, female gender, age older than 40 years, lower education, unemployment, and marital separation. Rates and type of drugs also varied among specific mental disorders; 19.3% of patients with brief recurrent depression but 55.0% with agoraphobia got any psychotropic drug. Antidepressant drugs were prescribed in 7.7% of anxiety disorders compared with 31.9% of depressive disorders. There were large differences between international centers. When comparing client-type centers with clinic-type centers, overall prescription rates were similar (51.2 vs. 52.9%), but significant differences were observed with respect to psychotropic polypharmacy (12.6% client, 6.3% clinic), tranquilizer medication (24.2 client, 32.9% clinic), and antidepressant medication (17.3 client, 8.9% clinic). Psychotropic drugs have an important role in the treatment of mental disorders by general practitioners. Prescription is associated with a number of clinical but also nonclinical factors that must be recognized when guidelines for international use are to be published. Recognition of mental disorders and selection of specific drug classes are important areas in which medical practice needs improvement.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Publications
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Created: Wed, 18 Nov 2009, 12:22:05 EST