Use of preventive medication and supplements in general practice in patients in their last year of life: a Retrospective cohort study

Anne Antonisse*, Frederieke H. van der Baan, Matthew Grant, Gon Uyttewaal, Cathelijne Verboeket, Hanneke Smits-Pelser, Saskia C.C.M. Teunissen, Eric C.T. Geijteman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Several preventive medications and supplements become inappropriate in the last phase of life due to increased risk of adverse events caused by changed pharmacokinetics, drug-drug interactions, and changed care goals. Information on these preventive medication and supplements use in patients with a life-limiting illness in the home-care setting is limited. The primary aim of this study was to assess the use of four different groups of preventive drugs and supplements, which are inappropriate in adult patients with a life-limiting illness, living at home in the last year of life. The secondary aims were to assess reasons for discontinuing these drugs as documented in the general practitioners’ patient file and whether these reasons affected the time between medication discontinuation and death. Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study using the routine primary care database of the Julius General Practitioners’ Network of the University Medical Centre Utrecht, a database consisting of routine care data from GPs from the city of Utrecht and its vicinity. Patients in the homecare setting with a life-limiting illness, diagnosed at least one year before death, were included. Descriptive analyses were used to describe the study population and the frequency of starting, using, and discontinuing medication and supplements in the last year of life. Results: A total of 458 of 666 included patients (69%) used at least one preventive drug in the last year of life. Vitamins were used by 36% of the patients, followed with 35% using cholesterol-lowering medication, 24% using calcium supplements and 9% using bisphosphonates. Bisphosphonates were discontinued by 70% of the users, calcium supplements by 61%, vitamins by 56% and cholesterol-lowering medication by 48% of the users, with a median interval between day of discontinuation and death of 119, 60, 110 and, 65 days, respectively. The median time between medication or supplement discontinuation and death was longest in patients with side effects and who had medication reviews. Conclusion: Many patients in their last phase of life in the home-care setting use inappropriate medication and supplements. Timely medication review may contribute to optimise medication use in the last year of life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101
JournalBMC Primary Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project is funded by the “Doen of laten—Het bevorderen van gepaste zorg” project, which is funded by ZonMw (839205002).

Publisher Copyright: © 2023, The Author(s).


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