Pharmacist participation in hospital ward teams and hospital readmission rates among people with dementia: a randomized controlled trial

Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2017 Jul;73(7):827-835. doi: 10.1007/s00228-017-2249-8. Epub 2017 Apr 8.


Purpose: To assess whether comprehensive medication reviews conducted by clinical pharmacists as part of a healthcare team reduce drug-related hospital readmission rates among people with dementia or cognitive impairment.

Methods: This randomized controlled trial was carried out between January 9, 2012, and December 2, 2014. Patients aged ≥65 years with dementia or cognitive impairment admitted to three wards at two hospitals located in Northern Sweden were included.

Results: Of the 473 deemed eligible for participation, 230 were randomized to intervention and 230 to control group by block randomization. The primary outcome, risk of drug-related hospital readmissions, was assessed at 180 days of follow-up by intention-to-treat analysis. During the 180 days of follow-up, 18.9% (40/212) of patients in the intervention group and 23.0% (50/217) of those in the control group were readmitted for drug-related reasons (HR = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.53-1.21, p = 0.28, univariable Cox regression). Heart failure was significantly more common in the intervention group. After adjustment for heart failure as a potential confounder and an interaction term, multiple Cox regression analysis indicated that pharmacist participation significantly reduced the risk of drug-related readmissions (HR = 0.49, 95% CI = 0.27-0.90, p = 0.02). A post-hoc analysis showed a significantly reduced risk of 30-day readmissions due to drug-related problems in the total sample (without adjustment for heart failure).

Conclusion: Participation of clinical pharmacists in healthcare team conducting comprehensive medication reviews did not significantly reduce the risk of drug-related readmissions in patients with dementia or cognitive impairment; however, post-hoc and subgroup analyses indicated significant effects favoring the intervention. More research is needed.

Trial registration: Clinical trials NCT01504672.

Keywords: Clinical pharmacists; Dementia; Drug-related readmissions; Medication reviews; Old people.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / drug therapy*
  • Dementia / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Medication Reconciliation*
  • Patient Care Team
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pharmacists*
  • Pharmacy Service, Hospital

Associated data