Deprescribing interventions among community dwelling older adults: a systematic review of economic evaluations

Sónia Romano, Débora Figueira, Inês Teixeira, Julian Perelman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Deprescribing can reduce the use of inappropriate or unnecessary medication; however, the economic value of such interventions is uncertain. Objective: This study seeks to identify and synthetise the economic evidence of deprescribing interventions among community-dwelling older adults. Methods: Full economic evaluation studies of deprescribing interventions, conducted in the community or primary care settings, in community-dwelling adults aged ≥ 65 years were systematically reviewed. MEDLINE, EconLit, Scopus, Web of Science, CEA-TUFTS, CRD York and Google Scholar databases were searched from inception to February 2021. Two researchers independently screened all retrieved articles according to inclusion and exclusion criteria. The main outcome was the economic impact of the intervention from any perspective, converted into 2019 US Dollars. The World Health Organization threshold of 1 gross domestic product per capita was used to define cost effectiveness. Studies were appraised for methodological quality using the extended Consensus on Health Economics Criteria checklist. Results: Of 6154 articles identified by the search strategy, 14 papers assessing 13 different interventions were included. Most deprescribing interventions included some type of medication review with or without a supportive educational component (n = 11, 85%), and in general were delivered within a pharmacist-physician care collaboration. Settings included community pharmacies, primary care/outpatient clinics and patients’ homes. All economic evaluations were conducted within a time horizon varying from 2 to 12 months with outcomes in most of the studies derived from a single clinical trial. Main health outcomes were reported in terms of quality-adjusted life-years, prevented number of falls and the medication appropriateness index. Cost effectiveness ranged from dominant to an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $112,932 per quality-adjusted life-year, a value above the country’s World Health Organization threshold. Overall, 85% of the interventions were cost saving, dominated usual care or were cost effective considering 1 gross domestic product per capita. Nine studies scored > 80% (good) and two scored ≤ 50% (low) on critical quality appraisal. Conclusions: There is a growing interest in economic evaluations of deprescribing interventions focused on community-dwelling older adults. Although results varied across setting, time horizon and intervention, most were cost effective according to the World Health Organization threshold. Deprescribing interventions are promising from an economic viewpoint, but more studies are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-295
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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