Devanand said "overuse" is difficult to define. "I don't think we have any way to know what overuse is. No one knows what the use should be," he said.
The second study found that almost one-third of residents in nursing homes were prescribed antipsychotics and that one-third of that number did not have dementia or psychosis.
Newly arrived residents were more likely to receive this type of drug if they were in a nursing home that routinely prescribed such drugs, suggesting that organizational culture and not patients are driving the trend.
"If you enter a nursing home that has a higher proportion of people on antipsychotics, you are also likely to be put on antipsychotics," Briesacher said.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more on mental health medications.
SOURCES: Becky A. Briesacher, Ph.D., associate professor, medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Mass.; E. Ray Dorsey, M.D., assistant professor, neurology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, N.Y.; Davangere Devanand, M.D., director, division of geriatric psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City; Jan. 11, 2010, Archives of Internal Medicine
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