Background: General Practitioners (GPs) are responsible for primary prescribing decisions in most settings. Elderly patients living in Advanced Care Facilities (ACFs) often have significant co-morbidities to consider when selecting an appropriate drug therapy. Careful assessment is required when considering appropriate medication use in frail older patients as they have multiple diseases and thus multiple medication. Many physicians seem reluctant to discontinue other physicians' prescriptions, resulting in further polypharmacy. Therefore it is relevant to ascertain and synthesise the GP views from multiple settings to understand the processes that might promote appropriate deprescribing medications in the elderly. The aims of this study were to 1) compare and contrast behavioural factors influencing the deprescribing practices of GPs providing care for ACF residents in two separate countries, 2) review health policy and ACF systems in each setting for their potential impact on the prescribing of medications for an older person in residential care of the elderly, and 3) based on these findings, provide recommendations for future ACF deprescribing initiatives.
Methods: A review and critical synthesis of qualitative data from two interview studies of knowledge, attitudes, and behavioural practices held by GPs towards medication management and deprescribing for residents of ACFs in Australia and Sweden was conducted. A review of policies and health care infrastructure was also carried out to describe the system of residential aged care in the both countries.
Results: Our study has identified that deprescribing by GPs in ACFs is a complex process and that there are numerous barriers to medication reduction for aged care residents in both countries, both with similarities and differences. The factors affecting deprescribing behaviour were identified and divided into: intentions, skills and abilities and environmental factors.
Conclusions: In this study we show that the GPs' behaviour of deprescribing in two different countries is much dependent on the larger health care system. There is a need for more education to both GPs and ACF staff as well as better cooperation between the different health care systems and appropriate monetary incentives for elderly care to achieve better conditions for deprescribing practice.