Education to reduce potentially harmful medication use among residents of assisted living facilities: a randomized controlled trial

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2014 Dec;15(12):892-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2014.04.002. Epub 2014 May 10.


Objectives: The objectives of this study were (1) to investigate the effect of nurse training on the use of potentially harmful medications; and (2) to explore the effect of nurse training on residents' health-related quality of life (HRQoL), health service utilization, and mortality.

Design: A randomized controlled trial.

Setting and participants: In total, 227 residents in 20 wards of assisted living facilities in Helsinki were recruited. The 20 wards were randomized into those in which (1) staff received two 4-hour training sessions on appropriate medication treatment (intervention group), and (2) staff received no additional training and continued to provide routine care (control group).

Intervention: Two 4-hour interactive training sessions for nursing staff based on constructive learning theory to recognize potentially harmful medications and corresponding adverse drug events.

Measurements: Use of potentially harmful medications, HRQoL assessed using the 15 dimensional instrument of health-related quality of life, health service utilization, and mortality assessed at baseline, and 6 and 12 months.

Results: During the 12-month follow-up, the mean number of potentially harmful medications decreased in the intervention wards [-0.43, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.71 to -0.15] but remained constant in the control wards (+0.11, 95% CI -0.09 to +0.31) (P = .004, adjusted for age, sex, and comorbidities). HRQoL declined more slowly in the intervention wards (-0.038 (95% CI -0.054 to -0.022) than in the control wards (-0.072 (95% CI -0.089 to -0.055) (P = .005, adjusted for age, sex, and comorbidities). Residents of the intervention wards had significantly less hospital days (1.4 days/person/year, 95% CI 1.2-1.6) than in the control wards (2.3 days/person/year; 95% CI 2.1-2.7) (relative risk 0.60, 95% CI 0.49-0.75, P < .001, adjusted for age, sex, and comorbidities).

Conclusions: Activating learning methods directed at nurses in charge of comprehensive care can reduce the use of harmful medications, maintain HRQoL, and reduce hospitalization in residents of assisted living facilities.

Keywords: Inappropriate drugs; anticholinergic drugs; assisted living; polypharmacy; psychotropic drugs; randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Assisted Living Facilities*
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Inappropriate Prescribing / prevention & control*
  • Inservice Training*
  • Male
  • Nursing Staff / education*
  • Polypharmacy*
  • Quality of Life

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12611001078943