Identifying potential prescribing safety indicators related to mental health disorders and medications: A systematic review

Wael Khawagi, Douglas Steinke, Joanne Nguyen, Richard Keers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Prescribing errors and medication related harm may be common in patients with mental illness. However, there has been limited research focusing on the development and application of prescribing safety indicators (PSIs) for this population.
Objective: Identify potential PSIs related to mental health (MH) medications and conditions.
Methods: Seven electronic databases were searched (from 1990 to February 2019), including the bibliographies of included studies and of relevant review articles. Studies that developed, validated or updated a set of explicit medication-specific indicators or criteria that measured prescribing safety or quality were included, irrespective of whether they contained MH indicators or not. Studies were screened to extract all MH related indicators before two MH clinical pharmacists screened them to select potential PSIs based on established criteria. All indicators were categorised into prescribing problems and medication categories.
Results: 79 unique studies were included, 70 of which contained at least one MH related indicator. No studies were identified that focused on development of PSIs for patients with mental illness. A total of 1386 MH indicators were identified (average 20 (SD=25.1) per study); 245 of these were considered potential PSIs. Among PSIs the most common prescribing problem was ‘Potentially inappropriate prescribing considering diagnoses or conditions’ (n=91, 37.1%) and the lowest was ‘omission’ (n=5, 2.0%). ‘Antidepressant’ was the most common PSI medication category (n=85, 34.7%).
Conclusion: This is the first systematic review to identify a comprehensive list of MH related potential PSIs. This list should undergo further validation and could be used as a foundation for the development of new suites of PSIs applicable to patients with mental illness.
Original languageEnglish
JournalP L o S One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2019


  • Psychiatry
  • Prescribing indicator
  • Quality indicators
  • Safety
  • Mental Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Identifying potential prescribing safety indicators related to mental health disorders and medications: A systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this