Antipsychotic Use With and Without Comorbid Psychiatric Diagnosis Among Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities [2017]

Antipsychotic use is controversial in the management of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) because of inconclusive evidence for efficacy in the absence of a comorbid psychiatric condition, and substantial concerns about adverse effects. We aimed to characterize antipsychotic use among Ontario adults with IDD and compare profiles of those with and without a documented psychiatric diagnosis.

This population-based study included 51,881 adults with IDD under 65 y as of April 2010 receiving provincial drug benefits in Ontario who were followed until March 2016 to identify those dispensed at least one antipsychotic medication. Profiles of those with and without a psychiatric diagnosis were compared.

Overall, 39.2% of adults (n = 20,316) were dispensed an antipsychotic medication, which increased to 56.4% in a subcohort residing in group homes. Almost one-third (28.91%) of people prescribed an antipsychotic medication did not have a documented psychiatric diagnosis. Those without a psychiatric diagnosis differed considerably from those with a diagnosis. In particular, those without a psychiatric diagnosis were older, less likely to have used antidepressants or benzodiazepines in the year before, and less likely to have used ambulatory and acute care.

Antipsychotic use in IDD is common, and occurs frequently without a psychiatric diagnosis. Attention toward how antipsychotics are prescribed and monitored for people with IDD in Canada is warranted to ensure appropriate prescribing.

Yona Lunsky, PhD, CPsych, Wayne Khuu, MPH, Mina Tadrous, PharmD, PhD, Simone Vigod, MD, MSc, FRCP(C), Virginie Cobigo, PhD, CPsych, Tara Gomes, MHSc
The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Vol 63, Issue 6, 2018