Impact of a pilot community pharmacy system redesign on reducing over-the-counter medication misuse in older adults

J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2021 Sep-Oct;61(5):555-564. doi: 10.1016/j.japh.2021.04.007. Epub 2021 Apr 15.


Background: No interventions have attempted to decrease misuse of over-the-counter (OTC) medications for adults aged 65 years or older (older adults) by addressing system barriers. An innovative structural pharmacy redesign (the Senior Section) was conceptualized to increase awareness of higher-risk OTC medications. The Senior Section contains a curated selection of OTC medications and is close to the prescription department to facilitate pharmacy staff-patient engagement to reduce misuse.

Objective: This pilot study examined the Senior Section's effectiveness at influencing OTC medication misuse in older adults.

Methods: A pretest-post-test nonequivalent groups design was used to recruit 87 older adults from 3 pharmacies. Using a hypothetical scenario, the participants selected an OTC medication that was compared with their medication list and health conditions, and their reported use was compared with the product labeling. Misuse outcomes comprised drug-drug, drug-disease, drug-age, and drug-label, with 5 subtypes. Patient characteristics were compiled into a propensity score matching logistic regression model to estimate their effects on the Senior Section's association with misuse at pre- or postimplementation.

Results: Patient characteristics were uniform between pre- and postimplementation, and, once entered into a propensity score matching model, drug-label misuse (exceeds daily dosage) statistically significantly lessened over time (z = -2.42, P = 0.015). In addition, the Senior Section reduced drug-label misuse (exceeds single dosage) for both the raw score model (z = -6.38, P = 0.011) and the model in which the patient characteristics propensity score was added (z = -5.82, P = 0.011). Despite these limited statistical effects, misuse was found to decrease after implementation for 7 of 11 comparisons.

Conclusion: These nascent outcomes begin providing an evidence base to support a well-conceived, pharmacy-based OTC medication-aisle redesign for reducing older adult OTC medication misuse. The Senior Section, when broadly implemented, creates permanent structures and processes to assist older adults to access risk information when selecting safer OTC medications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Community Pharmacy Services*
  • Humans
  • Nonprescription Drugs
  • Pharmacies*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prescription Drug Misuse*


  • Nonprescription Drugs