Objective: To investigate the effectiveness of an educational Quality Use of Medicines program, delivered at the level of general practice, on medicines use, falls and quality of life in people aged > or = 65 years.
Design: Cluster randomised controlled trial conducted in 2002.
Setting: General practices in the Hunter Region, New South Wales, Australia.
Participants: Twenty general practitioners recruited 849 patients to participate in the study.
Intervention: Education (academic detailing, provision of prescribing information and feedback); medication risk assessment; facilitation of medication review; financial incentives.
Primary measures: a composite score reflecting use of benzodiazepines, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and thiazide diuretics; secondary measures: use of medication reviews, occurrence of falls, quality of life (as assessed by SF-12 and EQ-5D survey scores.
Results: Compared with the control group, participants in the intervention group had increased odds of having an improved medication use composite score (odds ratio [OR], 1.86; 95% CI, 1.21-2.85) at 4-month follow-up but not at 12 months. At 4-month follow-up, the intervention group had reduced odds of using NSAIDs (OR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.39-0.99) and showed a non-significant reduction in use of benzodiazepines (OR, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.20-1.30) and thiazide diuretics (OR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.48-1.01). Changes in drug use were not significant at 12-month follow-up. At 12 months, intervention-group participants had lower adjusted ORs (AORs) for having a fall (AOR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.41-0.91), injury (AOR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.32-0.96), and injury requiring medical attention (AOR, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.30-0.70). Quality-of-life scores were unaffected by the intervention.
Conclusion: Education and systems for medication review conducted by GPs can be used to improve use of medicines. These interventions are associated with a reduction in falls among older people, without adverse effects on quality of life.