Outcomes Research in Review

Deprescribing in Older Adults in Community and Nursing Home Settings

Bayliss EA, Shetterly SM, Drace ML, et al. Deprescribing education vs usual care for patients with cognitive impairment and primary care clinicians: the OPTIMIZE Pragmatic Cluster Randomized Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2022;182(5):534-542. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2022.0502

Gedde MH, Husebo BS, Mannseth J, et al. Less is more: the impact of deprescribing psychotropic drugs on behavioral and psychological symptoms and daily functioning in nursing home patients. Results from the cluster-randomized controlled COSMOS trial. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2021;29(3):304-315. doi:10.1016/j.jagp.2020.07.004



Study 1 Overview (Bayliss et al)

Objective: To examine the effect of a deprescribing educational intervention on medication use in older adults with cognitive impairment.

Design: This was a pragmatic, cluster randomized trial conducted in 8 primary care clinics that are part of a nonprofit health care system.

Setting and participants: The primary care clinic populations ranged from 170 to 1125 patients per clinic. The primary care clinics were randomly assigned to intervention or control using a uniform distribution in blocks by clinic size. Eligibility criteria for participants at those practices included age 65 years or older; health plan enrollment at least 1 year prior to intervention; diagnosis of Alzheimer disease and related dementia (ADRD) or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) by International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision code or from problem list; 1 or more chronic conditions from those in the Chronic Conditions Warehouse; and 5 or more long-term medications. Those who scheduled a visit at their primary care clinic in advance were eligible for the intervention. Primary care clinicians in intervention clinics were eligible to receive the clinician portion of the intervention. A total of 1433 participants were enrolled in the intervention group, and 1579 participants were enrolled in the control group.

Intervention: The intervention included 2 components: a patient and family component with materials mailed in advance of their primary care visits and a clinician component comprising monthly educational materials on deprescribing and notification in the electronic health record about visits with patient participants. The patient and family component consisted of a brochure titled “Managing Medication” and a questionnaire on attitudes toward deprescribing intended to educate patients and family about deprescribing. Clinicians at intervention clinics received an educational presentation at a monthly clinician meeting as well as tip sheets and a poster on deprescribing topics, and they also were notified of upcoming appointments with patients who received the patient component of the intervention. For the control group, patients and family did not receive any materials, and clinicians did not receive intervention materials or notification of participants enrolled in the trial. Usual care in both intervention and control groups included medication reconciliation and electronic health record alerts for potentially high-risk medications.

Main outcome measures: The primary outcomes of the study were the number of long-term medications per individual and the proportion of patients prescribed 1 or more potentially inappropriate medications. Outcome measurements were extracted from the electronic clinical data, and outcomes were assessed at 6 months, which involved comparing counts of medications at baseline with medications at 6 months. Long-term medications were defined as medications that are prescribed for 28 days or more based on pharmacy dispensing data. Potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) were defined using the Beers list of medications to avoid in those with cognitive impairment and opioid medications. Analyses were conducted as intention to treat.

Main results: In the intervention group and control group, 56.2% and 54.4% of participants were women, and the mean age was 80.1 years (SD, 7.2) and 79.9 years (SD, 7.5), respectively. At baseline, the mean number of long-term medications was 7.0 (SD, 2.1) in the intervention group and 7.0 (SD, 2.2) in the control group. The proportion of patients taking any PIMs was 30.5% in the intervention group and 29.6% in the control group. At 6 months, the mean number of long-term medications was 6.4 in the intervention group and 6.5 in the control group, with an adjusted difference of –0.1 (95% CI, –0.2 to 0.04; P = .14); the proportion of patients with any PIMs was 17.8% in the intervention group and 20.9% in the control group, with an adjusted difference of –3.2% (95% CI, –6.2 to 0.4; P = .08). Preplanned analyses to examine subgroup differences for those with a higher number of medications (7+ vs 5 or 6 medications) did not find different effects of the intervention.

Conclusion: This educational intervention on deprescribing did not result in reductions in the number of medications or the use of PIMs in patients with cognitive impairment.

Study 2 Overview (Gedde et al)

Objective: To examine the effect of a deprescribing intervention (COSMOS) on medication use for nursing home residents.

Design: This was a randomized clinical trial.

Setting and participants: This trial was conducted in 67 units in 33 nursing homes in Norway. Participants were nursing home residents recruited from August 2014 to March 2015. Inclusion criteria included adults aged 65 years and older with at least 2 years of residency in nursing homes. Exclusion criteria included diagnosis of schizophrenia and a life expectancy of 6 months or less. Participants were followed for 4 months; participants were considered lost to follow-up if they died or moved from the nursing home unit. The analyses were per protocol and did not include those lost to follow-up or those who did not undergo a medication review in the intervention group. A total of 217 and 211 residents were included in the intervention and control groups, respectively.

Intervention: The intervention contained 5 components: communication and advance care planning, systematic pain management, medication reviews with collegial mentoring, organization of activities adjusted to needs and preferences, and safety. For medication review, the nursing home physician reviewed medications together with a nurse and study physicians who provided mentoring. The medication review involved a structured process that used assessment tools for behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), activities of daily living (ADL), pain, cognitive status, well-being and quality of life, and clinical metrics of blood pressure, pulse, and body mass index. The study utilized the START/STOPP criteria1 for medication use in addition to a list of medications with anticholinergic properties for the medication review. In addition, drug interactions were documented through a drug interaction database; the team also incorporated patient wishes and concerns in the medication reviews. The nursing home physician made final decisions on medications. For the control group, nursing home residents received usual care without this intervention.

Main outcome measures: The primary outcome of the study was the mean change in the number of prescribed psychotropic medications, both regularly scheduled and total medications (which also included on-demand drugs) received at 4 months when compared to baseline. Psychotropic medications included antipsychotics, anxiolytics, hypnotics or sedatives, antidepressants, and antidementia drugs. Secondary outcomes included mean changes in BPSD using the Neuropsychiatric Inventory-Nursing home version (NPI-NH) and the Cornell Scale for Depression for Dementia (CSDD) and ADL using the Physical Self Maintenance Scale (PSMS).

Main results: In both the intervention and control groups, 76% of participants were women, and mean age was 86.3 years (SD, 7.95) in the intervention group and 86.6 years (SD, 7.21) in the control group. At baseline, the mean number of total medications was 10.9 (SD, 4.6) in the intervention group and 10.9 (SD, 4.7) in the control group, and the mean number of psychotropic medications was 2.2 (SD, 1.6) and 2.2 (SD, 1.7) in the intervention and control groups, respectively. At 4 months, the mean change from baseline of total psychotropic medications was –0.34 in the intervention group and 0.01 in the control group (P < .001), and the mean change of regularly scheduled psychotropic medications was –0.21 in the intervention group and 0.02 in the control group (P < .001). Measures of BPSD and depression did not differ between intervention and control groups, and ADL showed a small improvement in the intervention group.

Conclusion: This intervention reduced the use of psychotropic medications in nursing home residents without worsening BPSD or depression and may have yielded improvements in ADL.


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