Research study into older people’s views on the medicines they take
A research study is taking place at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) to find out older people’s views on the number of medicines they take.
While medicines have obvious benefits they can also have side effects for patients and the balance can change over time.
The study aims to find out what patients and informal caregivers (like a relative) think about doctors in hospital advising that patients stop medicines which may no longer be needed.
It involves a questionnaire and at no point are any changes made to medication, however the information will be used to help find a way in the future where medicines no longer needed can be safely stopped.
More than 27 patients and three informal caregivers answered the questionnaire in the first few days of the research which will continue in the coming months and the findings published in a paper in the future.
Academic Pharmacist Sion Scott, who is based at NNUH, is running the study as part of his PhD and said the target group was patients under the care of Older People’s Medicine, taking at least five medicines and who are able to give consent, as well as informal caregivers who may be involved in decisions about medicines.
He said: “People may be on a medication which they started a long time ago and it may not have been reviewed and the condition has since been cured, or it’s not the most effective medicine anymore.
“We want to know how receptive people are to having their medication reviewed and this questionnaire is helping us understand that.
“I carry out the survey with patients on a tablet device and informal caregivers can fill it in here or send it to us and it takes about 10 minutes. The survey is around their attitudes to their medication – we’re not stopping them as part of this study.
“We will speak to doctors, nurses and pharmacists in another study and that will all come together in a paper based on the feedback we have had.”
Consultant in Older People’s Medicine Helen May said: “To recruit older people into research can be difficult and it can be tricky to get the concept of the research over to them and why it’s important, but we have recruited a lot of older people into this research and it’s a very positive thing for Older People’s Medicine.
“The overall aim is to develop some kind of model or intervention to promote de-prescribing but to do that we need to capture the key stakeholders’ opinions.
“I’m hoping this will help us put together a tool for more proactive de-prescribing. The average age of people taking part in this study is well over 85 and many over 90, and if you that age trying to swallow five tablets in the morning, you haven’t got room to eat.”