Intervention design in cognitively impaired populations-Lessons learned from the OPTIMIZE deprescribing pragmatic trial

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2023 Mar;71(3):774-784. doi: 10.1111/jgs.18148. Epub 2022 Dec 12.


Background: Polypharmacy is common in older adults with cognitive impairment and multiple chronic conditions, increasing risks of adverse drug events, hospitalization, and death. Deprescribing, the process of reducing or stopping potentially inappropriate medications, may improve outcomes. The OPTIMIZE pragmatic trial examined whether educating and activating patients, family members and clinicians about deprescribing reduces number of chronic medications and potentially inappropriate medications. Acceptability and challenges of intervention delivery in cognitively impaired older adults are not well understood.

Methods: We explored mechanisms of intervention implementation through post hoc qualitative interviews and surveys with stakeholder groups of 15 patients, 7 caregivers, and 28 clinicians. We assessed the context in which the intervention was delivered, its implementation, and mechanisms of impact.

Results: Acceptance of the intervention was affected by contextual factors including cognition, prior knowledge of deprescribing, communication, and time constraints. All stakeholder groups endorsed the acceptability, importance, and delivery of the intervention. Positive mechanisms of impact included patients scheduling specific appointments to discuss deprescribing and providers being prompted to consider deprescribing. Recollection of intervention materials was inconsistent but most likely shortly after intervention delivery. Short visit times remained the largest provider barrier to deprescribing.

Conclusions: Our work identifies key learnings in intervention delivery that can guide future scaling of deprescribing interventions in this population. We highlight the critical roles of timing and repetition in intervention delivery to cognitively impaired populations and the barrier posed by short consultation times. The acceptability of the intervention to patients and family members highlights the potential to incorporate deprescribing education into routine clinical practice and expand proven interventions to other vulnerable populations.

Keywords: cognitive impairment; deprescribing; intervention delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Caregivers
  • Deprescriptions*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Polypharmacy
  • Potentially Inappropriate Medication List
  • Pragmatic Clinical Trials as Topic