Psychotropic Medication Use among Medicare Beneficiaries Following Traumatic Brain Injury

Jennifer S. Albrecht, Daniel C. Mullins, Gordon S. Smith, Vani A Rao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: To characterize psychotropic medication use before and after traumatic brain injury (TBI) hospitalization among older adults. A secondary objective is to determine how receipt of indicated pharmacologic treatment for anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) differs following TBI. Design: Retrospective cohort. Setting: United States. Participants: Medicare beneficiaries aged ≥65 years hospitalized with TBI between 2006 and 2010 with continuous drug coverage for 12 months before and after TBI (N = 60,276). Measurements: We obtained monthly psychotropic medication use by drug class and specific drugs from Medicare Part D drug event files.ICD-9 codes were used to define anxiety (300.0x) and PTSD (309.81). Results: Average monthly prevalence of psychotropic medication use among all patients hospitalized for TBI was 44.8%; antidepressants constituted 73%. Prevalence of psychotropic medication use increased from 2006 to 2010. Following TBI, psychotropic medication use increased slightly (OR: 1.05; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.06.) Tricyclic antidepressant use decreased post-TBI (OR: 0.76; 95% CI: 0.73, 0.79) whereas use of the sedating antidepressants mirtazapine (OR: 1.31; 95% CI: 1.25, 1.37) and trazadone (OR: 1.11; 95% CI: 1.06, 1.17) increased. Antipsychotic (OR: 1.15; 95% CI: 1.12, 1.19) use also increased post-TBI. Beneficiaries newly diagnosed with anxiety (OR: 0.42; 95% CI: 0.36, 0.48) and/or PTSD (OR: 0.39; 95% CI: 0.18, 0.84) post-TBI were less likely to receive indicated pharmacologic treatment. Conclusions: Older adults hospitalized with TBI have a high prevalence of psychotropic medication use yet are less likely to receive indicated pharmacological treatment for newly diagnosed anxiety and PTSD following TBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
StateAccepted/In press - Sep 27 2016



  • Neuropsychiatric disorders
  • Older adults
  • Psychotropic medications
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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