Polypharmacy and Potentially Inappropriate Medication in People with Dementia: A Nationwide Study

Rachel Underlien Kristensen, Ane Nørgaard, Christina Jensen-Dahm, Christiane Gasse, Theresa Wimberley, Gunhild Waldemar


BACKGROUND: Polypharmacy (use of ≥5 different medications) and potentially inappropriate medication (PIM) are well-known risk factors for numerous negative health outcomes. However, the use of polypharmacy and PIM in people with dementia is not well-described.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the prevalence of polypharmacy and PIM in older people with and without dementia in a nationwide population.

METHODS: Cross-sectional study of the Danish population aged ≥65 in 2014 (n = 1,032,120) based on register data, including information on diagnoses and dispensed prescriptions. Polypharmacy and PIM use among people with (n = 35,476) and without dementia (n = 994,231) were compared, stratified by living situation and adjusted for age, sex, and comorbidity. The red-yellow-green list from the Danish Institute for Rational Pharmacotherapy and the German PRISCUS list were used to define PIM.

RESULTS: People with dementia were more frequently exposed to polypharmacy (dementia: 62.6% versus no-dementia: 35.1%, p < 0.001) and likewise PIM (red-yellow-green: 45.0% versus 29.7%, p < 0.001; PRISCUS: 24.4% versus 13.2%, p < 0.001). After adjustments for age, sex, and comorbidity, the likelihood of polypharmacy and PIM was higher for community-dwelling people with dementia than without dementia (odds ratio (OR); [95% confidence interval (CI)] polypharmacy: 1.50 [1.45-1.55]; red-yellow-green: 1.27 [1.23-1.31]; PRISCUS: 1.25 [1.20-1.30]). In contrast, dementia slightly decreased the odds of polypharmacy and PIM in nursing home residents.

CONCLUSION: Use of polypharmacy and PIM were widespread in the older population and more so in people with dementia. This could have negative implications for patient-safety and demonstrates the need for interventions to improve drug therapy in people with dementia.

TidsskriftJournal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)383-394
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - 2018


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