Deprescribing in Frail Older People: A randomised controlled trial

Kathleen Potter, Leon Flicker, Amy Page, Christopher Etherton-Beer

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158 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives Deprescribing has been proposed as a way to reduce polypharmacy in frail older people. We aimed to reduce the number of medicines consumed by people living in residential aged care facilities (RACF). Secondary objectives were to explore the effect of deprescribing on survival, falls, fractures, hospital admissions, cognitive, physical, and bowel function, quality of life, and sleep. Methods Ninety-five people aged over 65 years living in four RACF in rural mid-west Western Australia were randomised in an open study. The intervention group (n = 47) received a deprescribing intervention, the planned cessation of non-beneficial medicines. The control group (n = 48) received usual care. Participants were monitored for twelve months from randomisation. Primary outcome was change in the mean number of unique regular medicines. All outcomes were assessed at baseline, six, and twelve months. Results Study participants had a mean age of 84.3±6.9 years and 52% were female. Intervention group participants consumed 9.6±5.0 and control group participants consumed 9.5±3.6 unique regular medicines at baseline. Of the 348 medicines targeted for deprescribing (7.4 ±3.8 per person, 78% of regular medicines), 207 medicines (4.4±3.4 per person, 59% of targeted medicines) were successfully discontinued. The mean change in number of regular medicines at 12 months was -1.9±4.1 in intervention group participants and +0.1±3.5 in control group participants (estimated difference 2.0±0.9, 95%CI 0.08, 3.8, p = 0.04). Twelve intervention participants and 19 control participants died within 12 months of randomisation (26% versus 40% mortality, p = 0.16, HR 0.60, 95%CI 0.30 to 1.22) There were no significant differences between groups in other secondary outcomes. The main limitations of this study were the open design and small participant numbers. Conclusions Deprescribing reduced the number of regular medicines consumed by frail older people living in residential care with no significant adverse effects on survival or other clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0149984
Number of pages21
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes

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