Negotiating “Unmeasurable Harm and Benefit”: Perspectives of General Practitioners and Consultant Pharmacists on Deprescribing in the Primary Care Setting

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Abstract

The use of multiple medicines, known as polypharmacy, poses a risk of harm that is greatest in older adults with multimorbidity. Deprescribing aims to improve health outcomes through ceasing medicines that are no longer necessary or appropriate due to changing clinical circumstances and patient priorities. General practitioners (GPs) and consultant pharmacists (CPs) are well positioned to facilitate deprescribing in primary care in partnership with older adults who present with inappropriate polypharmacy. In this article, we explore GPs’ and CPs’ views about inappropriate polypharmacy, the reasoning they apply to deprescribing in primary care, and identify factors that support or inhibit this process. Using focus group methodology and the Framework Method for thematic analysis, two major themes were discerned from the data—working through uncertainty and risk perception as a frame of reference. The findings provide important insights when devising methods for advancing and supporting deprescribing in primary care.

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