DEFEAT-polypharmacy: deprescribing anticholinergic and sedative medicines feasibility trial in residential aged care facilities

Nagham Ailabouni, Dee Mangin, Prasad S Nishtala

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Background Prolonged use of anticholinergic and sedative medicines is correlated with worsening cognition and physical function decline. Deprescribing is a proposed intervention that can help to minimise polypharmacy whilst potentially improving several health outcomes in older people. Objective This study aimed to examine the feasibility of implementing a deprescribing intervention that utilises a patient-centred pharmacist-led intervention model; in order to address major deprescribing challenges such as general practitioner time constraints and lack of accessible deprescribing guidelines and processes. Setting Three residential care facilities. Methods The intervention involved a New Zealand registered pharmacist utilising peer-reviewed deprescribing guidelines to recommend targeted deprescribing of anticholinergic and sedative medicines to GPs. Main outcome measure The change in the participants' Drug Burden Index (DBI) total and DBI 'as required' (PRN) was assessed 3 and 6 months after implementing the deprescribing intervention. Results Seventy percent of potential participants were recruited for the study (n = 46), and 72% of deprescribing recommendations suggested by the pharmacist were implemented by General Pratitioners (p = 0.01; Fisher's exact test). Ninety-six percent of the residents agreed to the deprescribing recommendations, emphasising the importance of patient centred approach. Deprescribing resulted in a significant reduction in participants' DBI scores by 0.34, number of falls and adverse drug reactions, 6 months post deprescribing. Moreover, participants reported lower depression scores and scored lower frailty scores 6 months after deprescribing. However, cognition did not improve; nor did participants' reported quality of life. Conclusion This patient-centred deprescribing approach, demonstrated a high uptake of deprescribing recommendations and success rate. After 6 months, significant benefits were noted across a range of important health measures including mood, frailty, falls and reduced adverse reactions. This further supports deprescribing as a possible imperative to improve health outcomes in older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-178
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
Issue number1
Early online date18 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


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