Why is polypharmacy increasing in aged care facilities? The views of Australian health care professionals

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Rationale, aims and objectives: The prevalence of polypharmacy in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) is high and increasing. Although not necessarily inappropriate, polypharmacy has been associated with drug interactions, adverse drug events, geriatric syndromes and hospital admissions. The aim of this study was to identify and prioritize factors contributing to the increasing prevalence of polypharmacy in RACFs. Methods: Seventeen health care professionals from metropolitan and regional Victoria and South Australia identified and prioritized factors using a modified nominal group technique. Results: The top five factors ranked from most important to fifth most important were ‘changes in resident mix’, ‘increasing numbers of prescribers and the reluctance of one prescriber to discontinue a medicine commenced by another prescriber’, ‘better adherence to clinical practice guidelines’, ‘increasing reliance on locums’ and ‘greater recognition and pharmacological management of pain’. Conclusions: Reasons for the increase in polypharmacy are multifactorial. Understanding the factors contributing to polypharmacy may help to guide future research and develop interventions to manage polypharmacy in RACFs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-682
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • aged
  • homes for the aged
  • long-term care
  • nominal group technique
  • nursing homes
  • polypharmacy

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