An educational intervention on drug use in nursing homes improves health outcomes resource utilization and reduces inappropriate drug prescription

Fermín García-Gollarte, José Baleriola-Júlvez, Isabel Ferrero-López, Álvaro Cuenllas-Díaz, Alfonso J Cruz-Jentoft
Journal of the American Medical Directors Association 2014, 15 (12): 885-91

OBJECTIVE: Inappropriate drug prescription is a common problem in people living in nursing homes and is linked to adverse health outcomes. This study assessed the effect of an educational intervention directed to nursing home physicians in reducing inappropriate prescription and improving health outcomes and resource utilization.

DESIGN: Prospective, randomized, multicenter study.

SETTING: A private organization of nursing homes in Spain.

PARTICIPANTS: Sixty nursing home physicians caring for approximately 3900 nursing home residents in 37 centers were randomized to receive an educational intervention (30) or as a control group (30).

INTERVENTION: 10 hours educational program, followed by on demand support by phone.

OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS: Outcomes were assessed in 1018 randomly selected nursing home residents. Appropriateness of drug use [measured by the Screening Tool of Older Persons Prescriptions (STOPP) and Screening Tool to Alert Doctors to Right Treatment (START) criteria], incidence of selected geriatric syndromes (falls, delirium) and health resource utilization (visits to physicians and nursing homes, visits to the emergency room, days of hospitalization) were recorded for 3 months before the intervention started and 3 months after the intervention finished.

RESULTS: O total of 716 residents finished the study (344 cared for by the intervention group physicians, 372 cared for by control physicians). Mean age was 84.4 ± 12.7 years; 73% were women. The mean number of inappropriate drugs (STOPP criteria) was higher at the end of the study in the control than in the intervention group (1.29 ± 1.56 vs 0.81 ± 1.13), as was the number of residents on 6 or more drugs (76.5% vs.67.0%), using antipsychotics (9.1% vs 3.2%) or duplicate medications (32.5% vs 9.2%). The number of fallers increased in the control group (from 19.3% to 28%) and did not significantly change in the intervention group (from 25.3% to 23.9%); the number of residents with delirium increased in the control group (from 3.8% to 9.1%) and decreased in the intervention group (from 6.1% to 3.2%). The number of visits to a physician did not change in the control group (-0.22, P = .3) but were significantly reduced in the intervention group (-0.76, P = .01), the same happened with the number of visits to a nurse (-0.38, P = .4 in controls, -1.43 in the intervention group, P < .001). Visits to the emergency room and days in hospital significantly increased in the control group (+0.12 and +0.38) but were unchanged in the intervention group (+0.03 and +0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: An educational intervention on drug use is feasible in nursing home physicians and improves the use of inappropriate drugs, use of antipsychotics, and drug duplications in their residents. It may also improve the risk of delirium and falls, and reduce the use of health care resources.

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