How to minimise polypharmacy in older patients

This novel approach may help to guide more effective decision-making

Researchers from the University of Sydney say they have developed a novel approach to minimising polypharmacy in older patients.


They have identified a typology of this cohort, which they say may be helpful in guiding more effective decision-making and medicine management their medicines for them.

They have categorised three distinct types to help clinicians tailor their communication approaches.

Type one
People who are resistant to deprescribing and are attached to their medications because they believe it keeps them healthy. This group likes to be informed, but ultimately prefers to leave decisions about medicines to their doctor.

Type two
People who are open to deprescribing and prefer an active role in decision-making. They don’t like the idea of completely relying on medications to stay healthy. This group has mixed attitudes towards medicines, valuing their benefit, but disliking the side effects and hassle of taking them.

Type three
People who are less engaged in decision-making. Most defer decisions about medicines to their doctor or companion. They have chronic health conditions and take a large number of medicines. They are unaware of deprescribing, but open to the idea if their doctor recommends it.

This research shows that doctors should tailor communication to provide the best level of care, says lead researcher Kristie Weir.

“For some patients, it might be that you need to help them think a bit more about their medicines and educate them more," she says.

"Whereas for others, who were already aware of what medicines they were taking, identifying preferences and goals would be appropriate."