Process evaluation of the simplification of medications prescribed to long‐term care residents (Simpler) cluster randomized controlled trial: A mixed methods study

Janet K. Sluggett, Georgina A. Hughes, Choon Ean Ooi, Esa Y.H. Chen, Megan Corlis, Michelle E. Hogan, Tessa Caporale, Jan Van Emden, J. Simon Bell

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Complex medication regimens are highly prevalent, burdensome for residents and staff, and associated with poor health outcomes in residential aged care facilities (RACFs). The SIMPLER study was a non‐blinded, matched‐pair, cluster randomized controlled trial in eight Australian RACFs that investigated the one‐off application of a structured 5‐step implicit process to simplify medication regimens. The aim of this study was to explore the processes underpinning study implementation and uptake of the medication simplification intervention. A mixed methods process evaluation with an explanatory design was undertaken in parallel with the main outcome evaluation of the SIMPLER study and was guided by an established 8‐domain framework. The qualitative component included a document analysis and semi‐structured interviews with 25 stakeholders (residents, family, research nurses, pharmacists, RACF staff, and a general medical practitioner). Interviews were transcribed verbatim and reflexively thematically content analyzed. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize quantitative data extracted from key research documents. The SIM‐ PLER recruitment rates at the eight RACFs ranged from 18.9% to 48.6% of eligible residents (38.4% overall). Participation decisions were influenced by altruism, opinions of trusted persons, willingness to change a medication regimen, and third‐party hesitation regarding potential resident distress. Intervention delivery was generally consistent with the study protocol. Stakeholders perceived regimen simplification was beneficial and low risk if the simplification recommendations were individualized. Implementation of the simplification recommendations varied between the four intervention RACFs, with simplification implemented at 4‐month follow‐up for between 25% and 86% of residents for whom simplification was possible. Good working relationships between stakeholders and new remunerated models of medication management were perceived facilitators to wider implementation. In conclusion, the one‐off implicit medication simplification intervention was feasible and generally delivered according to the protocol to a representative sample of residents. Despite variable implementation, recommendations to simplify complex regimens were valued by stakeholders, who also supported wider implementation of medication simplification in RACFs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5778
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Health care
  • Long‐term care
  • Medication administration
  • Medication systems
  • Medication therapy management
  • Nursing homes
  • Process assessment
  • Qualitative research
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Residential facilities

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