Residential Aged Care Medication Review to Improve the Quality of Medication Use: A Systematic Review

Kaeshaelya Thiruchelvam, Syed Shahzad Hasan, Pei Se Wong, Therese Kairuz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Aging is often associated with various underlying comorbidities that warrant the use of multiple medications. Various interventions, including medication reviews, to optimize pharmacotherapy in older people residing in aged care facilities have been described and evaluated. Previous systematic reviews support the positive impact of various medication-related interventions but are not conclusive because of several factors. 

Objectives: The current study aimed to assess the impact of medication reviews in aged care facilities, with additional focus on the types of medication reviews, using randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies. 

Methods: A systematic searching of English articles that examined the medication reviews conducted in aged care facilities was performed using the following databases: PubMed, CINAHL, IPA, TRiP, and the Cochrane Library, with the last update in December 2015. Extraction of articles and quality assessment of included articles were performed independently by 2 authors. Data on interventions and outcomes were extracted from the included studies. The SIGN checklist for observational studies and the Cochrane Collaboration's tool for assessing risk of bias in RCTs were applied. Outcomes assessed were related to medications, reviews, and adverse events. 

Results: Because of the heterogeneity of the measurements, it was deemed inappropriate to conduct a meta-analysis and thus a narrative approach was employed. Twenty-two studies (10 observational studies and 12 controlled trials) were included from 1141 evaluated references. Of the 12 trials, 8 studies reported findings of pharmacist-led medication reviews and 4 reported findings of multidisciplinary team-based reviews. The medication reviews performed in the included trials were prescription reviews (n = 8) and clinical medication reviews (n = 4). In the case of the observational studies, the majority of the studies (8/12 studies) reported findings of pharmacist-led medication reviews, and only 2 studies reported findings of multidisciplinary team-based reviews. Similarly, 6 studies employed prescription reviews, whereas 4 studies employed clinical medication reviews. The majority of the recommendations put forward by the pharmacist or a multidisciplinary team were accepted by physicians. The number of prescribed medications, inappropriate medications, and adverse outcomes (eg, number of deaths, frequency of hospitalizations) were reduced in the intervention group. 

Conclusion: Medication reviews conducted by pharmacists, either working independently or with other health care professionals, appear to improve the quality of medication use in aged care settings. However, robust conclusions cannot be drawn because of significant heterogeneity in measurements and potential risk for biases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87.e1-87.e14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number1
Early online date24 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


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