Reducing inappropriate polypharmacy for older patients at specialist outpatient clinics: a systematic review

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Current Medical Research and Opinion


Objective: Polypharmacy is associated with negative clinical consequences. The efficacy of deprescribing interventions within medical specialist outpatient clinics remains unclear. Here, we reviewed the research on the effectiveness of deprescribing interventions implemented within specialist outpatient clinics for patients ≥ 60 years. Methods: Systematic searches of key databases were undertaken for studies published between January 1990 and October 2021. The diverse nature of the study designs made it unsuitable for pooling for meta-analysis, thus, a narrative review was conducted and presented in both text and tabular formats. The primary outcome for review was that intervention resulted in a change in medication load (either total number of medications or appropriateness of medication). Secondary outcomes were the maintenance of deprescription and clinical benefits. Methodological quality of the publications was assessed using the revised Cochrane risk-of-bias tools. Results: Nineteen studies with a total of 10,914 participants were included for review. These included geriatric outpatient clinics, oncology/hematology clinics, hemodialysis clinics, and designated polypharmacy/multimorbidity clinics. Four randomized controlled trials (RCTs) reported statistically significant reductions in medication load with intervention; however, all studies had a high risk of bias. The inclusion of a pharmacist in outpatient clinics aims to increase deprescribing, however, the current evidence is mainly restricted to prospective and pilot studies. The data on secondary outcomes were very limited and highly variable. Conclusions: Specialist outpatient clinics may provide valuable settings for implementing deprescribing interventions. The addition of a multidisciplinary team including a pharmacist and the use of validated medication assessment tools appear to be enablers. Further research is warranted.

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