Quality use of medicines in the rural ambulant elderly: a pilot study

Max Graffen, David Kennedy, Maree Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Australia has a rapidly ageing population, especially in rural areas, and strategies to address medicines and the elderly are particularly relevant. The aims of this 18 month study, therefore, were to: (1) determine the influence of a medication review on the quality of life of elderly ambulatory patients managed by a general practitioner; and (2) assess the impact of the medication review process on health outcomes such as medication-related hospital admissions in ambulant elderly patients actively managed by their GP. METHODS: The study was conducted within the area serviced by the rural Riverina Division of General Practice, New South Wales, Australia. Patients were identified by clinical audit, and recruited to the study if they met the inclusion criteria of being: older than 65 years, ambulant, living independently and on five or more medications. The study sample consisted of 402 participants (156 men, 38.8%; 246 women, 61.2%). Fifty-eight participants withdrew from the study for a variety of reasons. A two-group (intervention, control) pre- and post-intervention randomized study design was utilized. Quality of life was assessed using SF-36. The medication history and clinical details of the 202 study participants were reviewed by the project pharmacist and their GP. Medication changes were suggested to patients by their GP and follow-up SF36 and review of hospitalisation episodes were conducted after 6 months. RESULTS: 3382 medications were identified as being taken, an average of 8.4 medications per patient. After the initial medication review, the study pharmacist suggested an alteration in dose, form or frequency for 687 medications in the intervention group. The GPs recommended an alteration in 243 of patient medications. Of the entire study population (n = 402), only two participants' admission to hospital was specifically attributed to medication-related issues. There were no significant differences between the quality of lifeassessments for the combined groups; however, the intervention group recorded significantly higher scores in two of the nine dimensions measured: vitality (p 0.009) and mental health (p 0.0001), at the post-intervention assessment. CONCLUSION: While the intervention did not reduce hospitalisation episodes and only led to a modest improvement in quality of life, the development of a mutually acceptable form of face-to-face pharmacist/GP medication review, identification of potentially serious adverse drug reactions, identification of previously unreported complementary medicine use, and enhanced GP awareness of the risks of polypharmacy were positive outcomes of the study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)0-0
Number of pages1
JournalRural and Remote Health
Volume4
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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