In older people’s wards we aim to:

  • develop our approach to increasing discussions with patients about stopping medicines
  • develop a list of things that people think are important to measure when stopping medicines in hospital
  • design and carry out a study testing whether our approach works and is value for money
  • make discussions about stopping medicines in hospital important
  • develop a way for getting our approach to be used in all hospitals

As we get older, our bodies are less able to handle some medicines. Medicines that were once effective and safe, can become less beneficial, with increased risk of harm. Nine out of ten patients and carers told us that they would like their medicines reviewed by doctors in hospital during their stay and for those no longer needed or that could cause harm to be stopped. This is called proactive deprescribing and is different from stopping a medicine after harm has occurred.

To make this happen, we are addressing the things that help and hinder doctors and pharmacists from proactively stopping medicines. Our research with 54 doctors and pharmacists working with older people, found one thing that helps (drawing attention to prescribers who successfully stop risky medicines) and four things that hinder (wrong belief that patients don’t want to stop, pharmacists being unavailable when stopping decisions could be made, thinking that doing nothing is safer than stopping and medicine stopping is not a hospital priority).

Our Research

We will work with patients, carers, and staff from the hospital and community to develop a way to change pharmacist and doctor behaviour so that risky medicines are more likely to be stopped. They will also help us to design a study comparing hospitals using our approach, with hospitals carrying on as usual. After small-scale testing, we will test our approach in 24 hospitals and see if more medicines are stopped when the approach is used.

We will also see whether our approach has benefits to patients, such as preventing hospital readmissions or improving quality of life. We will also calculate the cost of our approach in such a way that the government can compare it with other services. Five patient and public members will be fully involved throughout: from research management and design, to delivery and presentation.

We have designed the study so our approach can be easily taken up in different hospitals and will make the information on how to do this freely available. Throughout the research, we will plan how and with whom to share our findings; this will be led by a public member experienced in changing national practice.

Collaborating Organisations