Objective: This study investigates attitudes to the prescription of mood stabilizer drugs for older patients by old age psychiatrists.
Methods: From a sample of 508 members of the Old Age Faculty of the Royal College of Psychiatrists practicing in England and Wales, 188 (37%) took part in a postal questionnaire survey. A proforma questionnaire investigating opinions about potential indications for, and current concerns about, mood stabilizer drugs was sent to all participants.
Results: Nearly all respondents initiated prescriptions for mood stabilizer drugs and a large majority agreed that they are therapeutically appropriate for prophylaxis of affective disorder (95%), treatment resistant depression (95%), acute mania (91%) and for behavioral symptoms in dementia (75%). Concerns about safety (77%), drug interactions (68%) and lack of scientific evidence (53%) were common.
Conclusions: Old age psychiatrists are frequent prescribers of mood stabilizer drugs for a variety of indications but have understandable concerns arising from a relative lack of scientific evidence of efficacy and effectiveness in older patients.