Article Text

Prescriber barriers and enablers to minimising potentially inappropriate medications in adults: a systematic review and thematic synthesis
  1. Kristen Anderson1,2,
  2. Danielle Stowasser3,
  3. Christopher Freeman2,3,
  4. Ian Scott1,4
  1. 1Centre of Research Excellence in Quality & Safety in Integrated Primary-Secondary Care, School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2Charming Institute, Camp Hill, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  3. 3School of Pharmacy, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  4. 4Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Woolloongabba, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Ms Kristen Anderson; k.anderson8{at}


Objective To synthesise qualitative studies that explore prescribers’ perceived barriers and enablers to minimising potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) chronically prescribed in adults.

Design A qualitative systematic review was undertaken by searching PubMed, EMBASE, Scopus, PsycINFO, CINAHL and INFORMIT from inception to March 2014, combined with an extensive manual search of reference lists and related citations. A quality checklist was used to assess the transparency of the reporting of included studies and the potential for bias. Thematic synthesis identified common subthemes and descriptive themes across studies from which an analytical construct was developed. Study characteristics were examined to explain differences in findings.

Setting All healthcare settings.

Participants Medical and non-medical prescribers of medicines to adults.

Outcomes Prescribers’ perspectives on factors which shape their behaviour towards continuing or discontinuing PIMs in adults.

Results 21 studies were included; most explored primary care physicians’ perspectives on managing older, community-based adults. Barriers and enablers to minimising PIMs emerged within four analytical themes: problem awareness; inertia secondary to lower perceived value proposition for ceasing versus continuing PIMs; self-efficacy in regard to personal ability to alter prescribing; and feasibility of altering prescribing in routine care environments given external constraints. The first three themes are intrinsic to the prescriber (eg, beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, skills, behaviour) and the fourth is extrinsic (eg, patient, work setting, health system and cultural factors). The PIMs examined and practice setting influenced the themes reported.

Conclusions A multitude of highly interdependent factors shape prescribers’ behaviour towards continuing or discontinuing PIMs. A full understanding of prescriber barriers and enablers to changing prescribing behaviour is critical to the development of targeted interventions aimed at deprescribing PIMs and reducing the risk of iatrogenic harm.


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