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Identifying fallacious arguments in a qualitative study of antipsychotic prescribing in dementia

Donyai, P. (2017) Identifying fallacious arguments in a qualitative study of antipsychotic prescribing in dementia. International Journal of Pharmacy Practice, 25 (5). pp. 379-387. ISSN 0961-7671

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/ijpp.12328


Background: Dementia can result in cognitive, noncognitive and behavioural symptoms which are difficult to manage. Formal guidelines for the care and management of dementia in the UK state that antipsychotics should only be prescribed where fully justified. This is because inappropriate use, particularly problematic in care-home settings, can produce severe side effects including death. The aim of this study was to explore the use of fallacious arguments in professionals’ deliberations about antipsychotic prescribing in dementia in carehome settings. Fallacious arguments have the potential to become unremarkable discourses that construct and validate practices which are counter to guidelines. Methods: This qualitative study involved interviews with 28 care-home managers and health professionals involved in caring for patients with dementia. Potentially fallacious arguments were identified using qualitative content analysis and a coding framework constructed from existing explanatory models of fallacious reasoning. Key findings: Fallacious arguments were identified in a range of explanations and reasons that participants gave in answer to questions about initiating, reducing doses of and stopping antipsychotics in dementia. The dominant fallacy was false dichotomy. Appeal to popularity, tradition, consequence, emotion, or fear, and the slippery slope argument was also identified. Conclusions: Fallacious arguments were often formulated to present convincing cases whereby prescribing antipsychotics or maintaining existing doses (versus not starting medication or reducing the dose, for example) appeared as the only acceptable decision but this is not always the case. The findings could help health professionals to recognise and mitigate the effect of logic-based errors in decisions about the prescribing of antipsychotics in dementia.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > School of Pharmacy > Pharmacy Practice Research Group
ID Code:67982
Publisher:Wiley InterScience


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