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.