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This study was based on the recording of psychotropic drug prescribing over two weeks by 269 doctors using practice activity analysis (PAA) data sheets. The overall mean rates for patients receiving one or more psychotropic drugs were 17.5 per 1,000 list size and 130 per 1,000 consultations; and for prescriptions issued the rates were 20.6 per 1,000 list size and 153 per 1,000 consultations. Recorders were classified into five categories `low' to `high', by the volume of prescribing and this paper is concerned with the comparison between them. Between the high and low categories there was a twofold difference in the prescribing of new prescriptions, a fourfold difference for continuing prescriptions and a tenfold difference for repeat prescriptions; 51 per cent of all prescriptions were issued as `repeats'.
Other features of prescribing have been studied in each of the categories. Prescribing rates vary little with workload. Increasing trends are evident from the low to high categories for the use of polytherapy and for the proportion of elderly persons who received prescriptions; the proportion of male patients (28 per cent) was consistent in all categories. The relative proportion of prescriptions by drug group (tranquillizers, antidepressants and hypnotics) was reasonably uniform in all categories.