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Linsky AM, Kressin NR, Stolzmann K, Pendergast J, Rosen AK, Bokhour BG, Simon SR. Direct-to-consumer strategies to promote deprescribing in primary care: a pilot study. BMC primary care. 2022 Mar 22; 23(1):53.
BACKGROUND: Deprescribing, or the intentional discontinuation or dose-reduction of medications, is an approach to reduce harms associated with inappropriate medication use. We sought to determine how direct-to-patient educational materials impacted patient-provider discussion about and deprescribing of potentially inappropriate medications. METHODS: We conducted a pre-post pilot trial, using an historical control group, at an urban VA medical center. We included patients in one of two cohorts: 1) chronic proton pump inhibitor users (PPI), defined as use of any dose for 90 consecutive days, or 2) patients at hypoglycemia risk, defined by diabetes diagnosis; prescription for insulin or sulfonylurea; hemoglobin A1c? < 7%; and age? = 65 years, renal insufficiency, or cognitive impairment. The intervention consisted of mailing medication-specific patient-centered EMPOWER (Eliminating Medications Through Patient Ownership of End Results) brochures, adapted to a Veteran patient population, two weeks prior to scheduled primary care appointments. Our primary outcome - deprescribing - was defined as clinical documentation of target medication discontinuation or dose-reduction. Our secondary outcome was documentation of a discussion about the target medication (yes/possible vs. no/absent). Covariates included age, sex, race, specified comorbidities, medications, and utilization. We used chi-square tests to examine the association of receiving brochures with each outcome. RESULTS: The 348 subjects (253 intervention, 95 historical control) were primarily age? = 65 years, white, and male. Compared to control subjects, intervention subjects were more likely to have deprescribing (36 [14.2%] vs. 4 [4.2%], p? = 0.009) and discussions about the target medication (31 [12.3%] vs. 1 [1.1%], p? = 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Targeted mailings of EMPOWER brochures temporally linked to a scheduled visit in primary care clinics are a low-cost, low-technology method associated with increases in both deprescribing and documentation of patient-provider medication discussions in a Veteran population. Leveraging the potential for patients to initiate deprescribing discussions within clinical encounters is a promising strategy to reduce drug burden and decrease adverse drug effects and harms.