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The effectiveness and cost of integrating pharmacists within general practice to optimize prescribing and health outcomes in primary care patients with polypharmacy: a systematic review

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posted on 2023-02-28, 16:42 authored by Aisling CrokeAisling Croke, Karen Cardwell, Barbara ClyneBarbara Clyne, Frank MoriartyFrank Moriarty, Laura McCullagh, Susan SmithSusan Smith

Background: Polypharmacy and associated potentially inappropriate prescribing (PIP) place a considerable burden on patients and represent a challenge for general practitioners (GPs). Integration of pharmacists within general practice (herein 'pharmacist integration') may improve medications management and patient outcomes. This systematic review assessed the effectiveness and costs of pharmacist integration.

Methods: A systematic search of ten databases from inception to January 2021 was conducted. Studies that evaluated the effectiveness or cost of pharmacist integration were included. Eligible interventions were those that targeted medications optimization compared to usual GP care without pharmacist integration (herein 'usual care'). Primary outcomes were PIP (as measured by PIP screening tools) and number of prescribed medications. Secondary outcomes included health-related quality of life, health service utilization, clinical outcomes, and costs. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs), non-RCTs, interrupted-time-series, controlled before-after trials and health-economic studies were included. Screening and risk of bias using Cochrane EPOC criteria were conducted by two reviewers independently. A narrative synthesis and meta-analysis of outcomes where possible, were conducted; the certainty of evidence was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach.

Results: In total, 23 studies (28 full text articles) met the inclusion criteria. In ten of 11 studies, pharmacist integration probably reduced PIP in comparison to usual care (moderate certainty evidence). A meta-analysis of number of medications in seven studies reported a mean difference of -0.80 [-1.17, -0.43], which indicated pharmacist integration probably reduced number of medicines (moderate certainty evidence). It was uncertain whether pharmacist integration improved health-related quality of life because the certainty of evidence was very low. Twelve health-economic studies were included; three investigated cost effectiveness. The outcome measured differed across studies limiting comparisons and making it difficult to make conclusions on cost effectiveness.

Conclusions: Pharmacist integration probably reduced PIP and number of medications however, there was no clear effect on other patient outcomes; and while interventions in a small number of studies appeared to be cost-effective, further robust, well-designed cluster RCTs with economic evaluations are required to determine cost-effectiveness of pharmacist integration.

Trial registration: CRD42019139679.

Funding

Health Research Board Ireland (Grant reference HRB CDA 2018 Reference CDA-2018–003)

History

Comments

The original article is available at https://bmcprimcare.biomedcentral.com/

Published Citation

Croke A. et al. The effectiveness and cost of integrating pharmacists within general practice to optimize prescribing and health outcomes in primary care patients with polypharmacy: a systematic review. BMC Prim Care. 2023;24(1):41.

Publication Date

6 February 2023

PubMed ID

36747132

Department/Unit

  • General Practice
  • School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences

Publisher

BioMed Central

Version

  • Published Version (Version of Record)