A longitudinal cohort study has investigated how the ability of older adults to correctly interpret, dose and organise standardised multi-drug regimens changes over time. The study commenced in 2008 and included 900 people aged 55-74 years. At baseline (T1), participants were given a standardised, seven-drug regimen to be taken over 24 hours. The same assessment was presented 9 years later (T4), with 303 participants having completed this as of November 2019.

On average, 2.9 dosing errors of 21 potential errors were made at T1 (SD = 2.5 dosing errors; range = 0 ‐ 21 dosing errors) and 5.0 errors at T4 (SD = 2.1 errors; range = 1‐18 errors; P < 0.001). Using a multivariate model, significant factors predicting the decline in self-management of medication included limited literacy, meaningful cognitive decline, number of chronic conditions, and number of baseline dosing errors.

It was also reported that daily medication schedules were frequently over-complicated by participants. This finding, in combination with the increased number of dosing errors made over the 9-year follow up period, highlights the importance of regular counselling for older patients on safe, appropriate medication use. This intervention could have significant beneficial impacts on medication adherence and safety in this population. Read more details here.

Contributed by Australian Medication Safety Services Associate – Isabella Singh