For which patient subgroups are there positive outcomes from a medication review? A systematic review

Main Article Content

Bjarke Abrahamsen
Rikke N. Hansen
Charlotte Rossing


Pharmacists, Community Pharmacy Services, Drug Utilization Review, Multimorbidity, Frail Elderly, Outcome Assessment, Health Care, Systematic Reviews as Topic


Background: A medication review is a possibility to assess and optimise a patient’s medicine. A model that includes a medication review and a follow-up seem to provide the best results. However, it is not known whether specific subgroups of patients benefit more from a medication review than others.

Objective: This literature review summarises the evidence that is available on which patient subgroups exist positive outcomes from a medication review carried out in a primary care setting.

Methods: We performed a PICO analysis to identify keywords for setting, medication review and effect. We then conducted a search using the PubMed database (2004 to 2019) to identify studies relevant for our investigation. A screening process was carried out based on either title or abstract, and any study that matched the aim and inclusion criteria was included. All matching studies were obtained and read, and were included if they met predefined criteria such as study design, medication review and primary care. The studies were divided into subgroups. First, each subgroup was divided according to the studies’ own definition. Secondly, each subgroup was allocated as either risk patients if the subgroup described a specific patient subgroup or risk medication, if the subgroup was defined as using a specific type of medication. This was done after discussion in the author group.

Results: 28 studies from a total of 935 studies were included. Identified studies were divided into either risk patients; frail, recently discharged or multimorbid patients, or risk medication; heart medication, antithrombotic medication, blood pressure lowering medication, antidiabetic medication, anti-Parkinson medication or medication increasing the risk of falls. The subgroups identified from a medication review in primary care were defined as being frail, recently discharged from hospital or multimorbid (risk patients), or defined as patients using anticoagulant or blood pressure lowering medication (risk medication). Most of the medication reviews in the studies that showed an economic effect included at least one follow-up and were delivered by a pharmacist.

Conclusions: The literature review demonstrates that medication reviews delivered by pharmacists to specific subgroups of patients are a way of optimising the economic effect of medication reviews in primary care. This is obtained by reducing health-related costs or the number of contacts with primary or secondary health care services.

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