Experts Set Research Priorities for Geriatric Pharmacotherapy

March 13, 2018
Lori Sharp,

The average senior (65 and older) takes five or more medications, and up to 74% of nursing home residents use nine or more on a regular basis. Yet, there is limited clinical evidence to guide prescribing and administration for those who have multi-morbidities or frailty or are at the end of life. In “Research Priorities for Optimizing Geriatric Pharmacotherapy: An International Consensus,” published in the March issue of JAMDA, a group of international experts identified eight research priorities in geriatric prescribing to consider.

Specifically, the group suggested a focus on: quality of medication use, vulnerable patient groups, polypharmacy and multi-morbidity, person-centered practice and research, deprescribing, methodological development, variability in medication use, and national and international comparative research. Further studies, they said, should aim at addressing these current gaps in research to improve medication management and health outcomes in this population.

The benefits of focused research and its translation into practice are significant, the authors suggested. They said, “Medication-related harms continue to be associated with considerable economic, clinical and humanistic costs.” For instance, elders are more vulnerable to adverse drug events (ADEs), and these events often lead to problems such as falls and delirium. At the same time, they noted, medication-related problems are implicated in up to 30% of unplanned hospitalizations in patients aged 75 and older, with up to three-quarters of these being considered potentially preventable.

The authors and experts involved in the study are from the Centre for Medicine Use and Safety, Monash University, Parkville, Australia; Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; NHMRC Cognitive Decline Partnership Center, Hornsby, New South Wales, Australia; Department of Geriatrics, Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy; Centre for Research and Innovation in Care, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium; Department of Clinical Pharmacology, University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium; Kuopio Research Centre of Geriatric Care, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland.

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JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit for more information.

AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit for more information.