Wastell, Sarah, Paul Skirrow, & Dougal Julian Hare (2016). Factors influencing the use of psychotropic medication for challenging behaviour in the United Kingdom: A Q method investigation. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 29(4), 295-304.

Abstract: Objectives. The use of pharmacological interventions to manage challenging behaviour displayed by adults with intellectual disabilities remains controversial, with current clinical guidelines in the United Kingdom advocating the use of less invasive psychological interventions. This exploratory study aimed to discover what views and beliefs are held by a sample of NHS professionals who provided care and treatment to adults with learning disabilities, about the factors that are influential in the clinical decision-making process, surrounding the prescription of psychotropic medication, to manage challenging behaviour. Methods. Q methodology was used to elucidate the factors considered influential in the clinical decision-making process, surrounding the prescription of medication to manage challenging behaviour. 55 participants from a range of services across the northwest of England performed a 104 statement Q-sort task. Results. Principal component factor analysis with varimax rotation was performed on the 55 completed Q sorts. This revealed a four-factor solution, accounting for 44% of the variance in the data. The factors were interpreted and discussed under the following headings: ‘High-quality safe ethical practice’, ‘Risk is a rationale for reactive prescribing’, ‘Pragmatic management’ and ‘Contextual issues’. Conclusions. The study demonstrated that Q methodology is a useful tool for identifying subjective viewpoints held by a range of professionals, with regard to the factors that influence the clinical decision-making process surrounding the prescription of medication. The study suggests that services need to identify the wider contextual factors, which are barriers, to the use of less invasive psychological interventions.

Dougal Julian Hare <dougal.hare@manchester.ac.uk> is in the School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.

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