Psychotropic Medication Use among Medicare Beneficiaries Following Traumatic Brain Injury

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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)
Pages (from-to)415-424
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Traumatic brain injury
  • neuropsychiatric disorders
  • older adults
  • psychotropic medications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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