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The COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions are expected to affect the mental health of the population, especially people with intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorder, because of a variety of biological and psychosocial reasons.
This study aimed to estimate if COVID-19 restrictions are associated with a change in number of total consultations carried out by psychiatrists and prescription of psychotropic medication in people with intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorder, within a community intellectual disability service.
A quantitative observational study was conducted, involving retrospective and prospective data collection before and during lockdown. Data was collected on a spreadsheet and emailed to all psychiatrists working within the Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust-wide community intellectual disability service. Variables included total consultations, medication interventions, types of medications used, multidisciplinary team input and clinical reasons for medication interventions. Data was analysed separately for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and adult intellectual disability teams, and for the whole service.
During the lockdown period, total consultations in the community intellectual disability service increased by 19 per week and medication interventions increased by two per week. Multidisciplinary team input increased in CAMHS from 0.17 to 0.71 per week and in adult intellectual disability from 5.7 to 6.5 per week. Hypnotics and benzodiazepines were the most commonly prescribed psychotropic medications during the lockdown period.
COVID-19-related lockdown resulted in an increase in medication interventions, total consultations and involvement of multidisciplinary teams to manage mental health and behavioural issues in people with intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorder.
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