Doctors' perspectives on the barriers to appropriate prescribing in older hospitalized patients: a qualitative study

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2015 May;79(5):860-9. doi: 10.1111/bcp.12555.


Aims: Older patients commonly suffer from multimorbidites and take multiple medications. As a result, these patients are more vulnerable to potentially inappropriate prescribing (PIP). PIP in older patients may result in adverse drug events (ADEs) and hospitalizations. However, little has been done to identify why PIP occurs. The objectives of this study were (i) to identify hospital doctors' perceptions as to why PIP occurs, (ii) to identify the barriers to addressing the issues identified and (iii) to determine which intervention types would be best suited to improving prescribing.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews based on the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF), a tool used to apply behaviour change theories, were conducted with 22 hospital doctors. Content analysis was conducted to identify domains of the TDF that could be targeted to improve prescribing for older people. These domains were then mapped to the behaviour change wheel to identify possible intervention types.

Results: Content analysis identified five of the 12 domains in the TDF as relevant: (i) environmental context and resources, (ii) knowledge, (iii) skills, (iv) social influences and (v) memory/attention and decision processes. Using the behaviour change wheel, the types of interventions deemed suitable were those based on training and environmental restructuring.

Conclusion: This study shows that doctors feel there is insufficient emphasis on geriatric pharmacotherapy in their undergraduate/postgraduate training. An intervention providing supplementary training, with particular emphasis on decision processes and dealing with social influences would be justified. This study has, however, uncovered many areas for potential intervention in the future.

Keywords: inappropriate; older patients; potentially; prescribing; qualitative.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Drug Prescriptions / standards
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / epidemiology*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / prevention & control
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Inappropriate Prescribing / prevention & control*
  • Inappropriate Prescribing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ireland
  • Pharmacology / education
  • Physician's Role*