Pharmacy-supported interventions at transitions of care: an umbrella review

Int J Clin Pharm. 2019 Aug;41(4):831-852. doi: 10.1007/s11096-019-00833-3. Epub 2019 May 23.


Background Medication discrepancies arising at care transitions are prevalent and are linked with adverse drug events and increased healthcare utilization. Evidence is lacking about which pharmacy-supported interventions at care transitions are most effective for both the patient and the healthcare system. Aim of the review To invesitigate the content and effect of pharmacy-supported interventions at transitions of care. Method The PubMed, Ovid/Medline and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews databases were used. The search was limited to systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in English up to May 2018. Included reviews investigated any intervention related to medication therapy performed by pharmacists or multiple healthcare professionals, including a pharmacist, at transition points in any healthcare setting. Reviews were excluded if interventions were not clearly defined or were not performed at care transitions or were not related to medications. A quality assessment was performed using the PRISMA guidelines. The data extracted included general characteristics, methodology, point of transition, pharmacy-supported interventions and outcomes. For systematic reviews, narrative conclusions were extracted. For meta analyses, reported relative risks or odds ratios were extracted along with the 95% confidence intervals. Results Nine systematic reviews and 5 meta-analyses reporting 162 studies were included. The interventions analysed included medication reconciliation (7 reviews) and composite interventions (7 reviews). Six studies reviewed interventions performed by pharmacists alone, while 8 studies explored interventions by different healthcare professionals, including a pharmacist. A positive effect on either medication discrepancies or (potential) ADEs was observed in all reviews. Mixed effects were observed for hospitalizations rates (9 reviews) and costs (4 reviews), regardless of the intervention applied. Mixed effects were also observed for both medication reconciliation and composite interventions on the number of emergency department visit. Interventions showed no significant effect on mortality (4 reviews). The quality of the reviews showed significant variability. Conclusion Pharmacy-supported interventions at transitions of care are heterogeneous and potentially improve medication safety, but show no significant effect on mortality. The effect on healthcare utilization and costs is inconclusive.

Keywords: Care transitions; Medication reconciliation; Pharmacists; Umbrella review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / prevention & control*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Medication Reconciliation / methods*
  • Patient Transfer / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pharmaceutical Services*
  • Professional Role