Background: There is a substantial body of evidence that prescribing for care home residents is suboptimal and requires improvement. Consequently, there is a need to identify effective interventions to optimise prescribing and resident outcomes in this context.
Objectives: The objective of the review was to determine the effect of interventions to optimise prescribing for older people living in care homes.
Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care (EPOC) Group Specialised Register; Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), The Cochrane Library (Issue 11, 2012); Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, The Cochrane Library (Issue 11, 2012); MEDLINE OvidSP (1980 on); EMBASE, OvidSP (1980 on); Ageline, EBSCO (1966 on); CINAHL, EBSCO (1980 on); International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, OvidSP (1980 on); PsycINFO, OvidSP (1980 on); conference proceedings in Web of Science, Conference Proceedings Citation Index - SSH & Science, ISI Web of Knowledge (1990 on); grey literature sources and trial registries; and contacted authors of relevant studies. We also reviewed the references lists of included studies and related reviews (search period November 2012).
Selection criteria: We included randomised controlled trials evaluating interventions aimed at optimising prescribing for older people (aged 65 years or older) living in institutionalised care facilities. Studies were included if they measured one or more of the following primary outcomes, adverse drug events; hospital admissions;mortality; or secondary outcomes, quality of life (using validated instrument); medication-related problems; medication appropriateness (using validated instrument); medicine costs.
Data collection and analysis: Two authors independently screened titles and abstracts, assessed studies for eligibility, assessed risk of bias and extracted data. A narrative summary of results was presented.
Main results: The eight included studies involved 7653 residents in 262 (range 1 to 85) care homes in six countries. Six studies were cluster-randomised controlled trials and two studies were patient-randomised controlled trials. The interventions evaluated were diverse and often multifaceted. Medication review was a component of seven studies, three studies involved multidisciplinary case-conferencing, two studies involved an educational element for care home staff and one study evaluated the use of clinical decision support technology. Due to heterogeneity, results were not combined in a meta-analysis. There was no evidence of an effect of the interventions on any of the primary outcomes of the review (adverse drug events, hospital admissions and mortality). No studies measured quality of life. There was evidence that the interventions led to the identification and resolution of medication-related problems. There was evidence from two studies that medication appropriateness was improved. The evidence for an effect on medicine costs was equivocal.
Authors' conclusions: Robust conclusions could not be drawn from the evidence due to variability in design, interventions, outcomes and results. The interventions implemented in the studies in this review led to the identification and resolution of medication-related problems, however evidence of an effect on resident-related outcomes was not found. There is a need for high-quality cluster-randomised controlled trials testing clinical decision support systems and multidisciplinary interventions that measure well-defined, important resident-related outcomes.