Targeting Suboptimal Prescribing in the Elderly: A Review of the Impact of Pharmacy Services

To review the currently available literature on the impact of interventions by pharmacists on suboptimal prescribing in the elderly.


MEDLINE, EMBASE, and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts databases were searched for studies published between January 1992 and December 2008. Key words included medication review, drug regimen review, pharmaceutical services, pharmaceutical care, pharmacists, medications, appropriateness, suboptimal, underuse, aged, elderly, randomized controlled trial, inappropriate, prescribing, and intervention.


To be included in the review, studies must have been conducted in patients 65 years or older, published in English, randomized and controlled, and must have included an intervention delivered by a pharmacist or had a pharmacist as a member of the intervention team. From each relevant study, the following data were extracted: study duration, country, number of patients, year of publication, objective, type and impact of the intervention, method used to assess suboptimal prescribing, and data concerning the quality of the study.


A total of 38 articles were identified, of which 12 matched our inclusion criteria. Seven articles included interventions initiated by pharmacists, and the remaining 5 described interventions in which the pharmacist was a part of the multidisciplinary team. A broad range of tools was used to measure prescribing appropriateness; we found that a consensus on the best approach has not been reached. Most of the studies involving pharmacists showed significant improvement in suboptimal prescribing at one or more time points. However, most of these interventions were directed toward reducing the overuse or misuse of medications.


Pharmacy services to reduce suboptimal prescribing have shown promising and noteworthy improvements. More research is needed to address the underutilization of medications in the elderly and healthcare impact of reducing suboptimal prescribing.


FarmacieOrganizational interventionsOverigBehandeling medicatie



Castelino RL
Bajorek BV
Chen TF