There is a high prevalence of potentially inappropriate prescriptions in primary care. This is associated with more frequent adverse events, lower quality of life and more frequent visits to hospital accident & emergency departments. The aim of the present study is to summarise available evidence on the effectiveness of deprescription interventions in primary care, and to describe the barriers and enablers of the process from the point of view of patients and healthcare professionals.
We designed an umbrella review which includes nine systematic reviews. More than 50% of included studies were performed with adults in primary care. Two reviewers independently performed data extraction and analysis.
In considering studies of the effectiveness of interventions, it can be observed that the educational component of deprescription procedures is a key factor, whilst procedures tailored towards the patient’s situation offer better results. With regards to studies involving healthcare professionals, the main explored areas were the balance between risks and benefits, and the need to improve communication with patients as well as other colleagues involved in patient care. Amongst the identified barriers we found lack of time, inability to access all information, being stuck in a routine, resistance to change and a lack of willingness to question the prescription decisions made by healthcare colleagues. With regards to patients, it is clear that they have worries and doubts. In order to overcome these issues, a good relationship with healthcare professionals and receipt of their support is required during the process.
Optimizing medication through targeted deprescribing is an important part of managing chronic conditions, avoiding adverse effects and improving outcomes. The majority of deprescription interventions in primary care are effective. Good communication between healthcare professionals is a key element for success in the deprescription process.