Medication use to manage comorbidities in people with dementia: a systematic review

Kate Wang, Janine Alan, Amy Page, Mia Percival, Christopher Etherton-Beer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Aim: To investigate physical health outcomes associated with medications prescribed to manage chronic physical conditions in people living with dementia; and determine whether a dementia diagnosis altered drug utilisation patterns for physical health conditions. 

Data sources: Medline, Embase, Central and Scopus were searched 01/2011 to 12/2020. 

Study selection: Experimental and observational studies, where participants with dementia using medications prescribed by doctors to prevent or treat one or more chronic comorbid physical condition, were compared to no intervention, usual care, or a non-dementia comparison group. The outcomes of interest were clinically meaningful physical outcomes, and medication utilisation patterns. 

Results: Ten studies met the inclusion criteria. All were of medium to high quality relative to their study design. Mixed findings were reported for ischemic stroke (n = 3), all-cause mortality (n = 3) and bleeding-related outcomes (n = 2). This is likely due to the heterogeneity in exposures reported. One study found that people with dementia, receiving antidiabetic management, had a higher rate of severe hypoglycaemia compared to people without dementia. Medication utilisation pattern outcomes included oral anticoagulant use before stroke-related hospitalisation (n = 1), antithrombotic medication use before stroke-related hospitalisation (n = 1), cardiovascular medication use for secondary prevention of ischemic heart disease (n = 1), antidepressant medication discontinuation (n = 1), osteoporosis treatment (n = 1), diabetic medication use (n = 2), and antihypertensive medication discontinuation (n = 1). 

Conclusion: This systematic review showed there is currently insufficient evidence to conclude that medication management in people with dementia should differ substantially to people without dementia. Comprehensive and high-quality evidence is needed to improve confidence that medication prescribing achieves optimum clinical outcomes, quality of life, and benefit-to-risk determination in this vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-179
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Pharmacy Practice and Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • dementia
  • medication safety
  • multi-morbidities

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