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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Physicians' Non-Uniform Approach to Prescribing Drugs to Older Patients - A Qualitative Study

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Multi-morbidity and polypharmacy are common in older patients and increase their susceptibility to adverse drug events and hospitalizations. Rational drug prescription is critical, however, little is known about physicians' perspectives on how to prescribe drugs for older patients. The aim of this study was to explore physicians' approach to prescribe drugs to older patients, including identifying the drugs that physicians perceive to be risk drugs for older patients and comparing them with established lists of potentially inappropriate medications. Short semi-structured interviews were conducted with 50 medical specialists in 23 different specialities throughout Denmark who had contact with older patients. Content analysis was performed to identify the relevant themes. Regardless of their medical or surgical background and how often they prescribed drugs for older patients in daily work, all physicians expressed a cautious approach when prescribing risk drugs. Despite their shared caution, physicians had different strategies for prescribing drugs to older patients. The following strategies were identified: 1) "Start low, go slow", 2) "Trial and error", 3) "Dose reduction", and 4) "Never prescribe". The most frequently mentioned risk drugs considered to cause hospitalization were vitamin K antagonists, opioids and diuretics; these drugs are relatively highly consistent with established lists of PIMs. Physicians were relatively knowledgeable about risk drugs. Although the physicians agreed that a cautious approach was needed when prescribing drugs for older people, there was no consensus about how to best accomplish this in practice. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBasic & clinical pharmacology & toxicology
Volume121
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)505-511
ISSN1742-7843
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

    Research areas

  • Journal Article

ID: 50634030