Development of prescribing safety indicators related to mental health disorders and medications: modified e-Delphi study

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Develop a set of prescribing safety indicators related to mental health disorders and medications and to estimate the risk of harm associated with each indicator.

A modified two‐stage electronic Delphi. The first stage consisted of two rounds, where 31 experts rated their agreement with a set of 101 potential mental health related prescribing safety indicators using a 5‐point scale and given the opportunity to suggest other indicators. Indicators that achieved 80% agreement were accepted. The second stage comprised a single round, where 29 members estimated the risk of harm for each accepted indicator by assessing the occurrence likelihood and outcome severity using two 5‐point scales. Indicators were considered high or extreme risk when at least 80% of participants rated each indicator as high or extreme.

Seventy‐five indicators were accepted in the first stage. Following the second stage, 42 (56%) were considered to be high or extreme risk for patient care. The 42 indicators comprised different types of hazardous prescribing, including drug‐disease interactions (n=12), drug‐drug interactions (n=9), inadequate monitoring (n=5), inappropriate duration (n=4), inappropriate dose (n=4), omissions (n=4), potentially inappropriate medications (n=3), and polypharmacy (n=1). These indicators also covered different mental health related medication classes, including antipsychotics (n=14), mood stabilisers (n=8), antidepressants (n=6), sedative, hypnotics and anxiolytics (n=6), anticholinergic (n=6) and non‐specific psychotropics (n=2).

This study has developed the first suite of prescribing safety indicators related to mental health disorders and medications, which could inform the development of future safety improvement initiatives and interventional studies.


Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Early online date20 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 May 2020


  • prescribing indicators, quality indicators, consensus, medication safety