Aims: To evaluate whether a year long clinical pharmacy program involving development of professional relationships, nurse education on medication issues, and individualized medication reviews could change drug use, mortality and morbidity in nursing home residents.
Methods: A cluster randomised controlled trial, where an intervention home was matched to three control homes, was used to examine the effect of the clinical pharmacy intervention on resident outcomes. The study involved 905 residents in 13 intervention nursing homes and 2325 residents in 39 control nursing homes in south-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales, Australia. The outcome measures were: continuous drug use data from government prescription subsidy claims, cross-sectional drug use data on prescribed and administered medications, deaths and morbidity indices (hospitalization rates, adverse events and disability indices).
Results: This intervention resulted in a reduction in drug use with no change in morbidity indices or survival. Differences in nursing home characteristics, as defined by cluster analysis with SUDAAN, negated intervention-related apparent significant improvements in survival. The use of benzodiazepines, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, laxatives, histamine H2-receptor antagonists and antacids was significantly reduced in the intervention group, whereas the use of digoxin and diuretics remained similar to controls. Overall, drug use in the intervention group was reduced by 14.8% relative to the controls, equivalent to an annual prescription saving of A64 dollars per resident (approximately 25 pound sterling).
Conclusions: This intervention improved nursing home resident outcomes related to changes in drug use and drug-related expenditure. The continuing divergence in both drug use and survival at the end of the study suggests that the difference would have been more significant in a larger and longer study, and even more so using additional instruments specific for measuring outcomes related to changes in drug use.