DOI: 10.1177/02692163231209024 ISSN: 0269-2163

Prescribing and deprescribing in older people with life-limiting illnesses receiving hospice care at the end of life: A longitudinal, retrospective cohort study

Tahani Alwidyan, Noleen K McCorry, Chris Black, Rachel Coulter, June Forbes, Carole Parsons
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • General Medicine


Although prescribing and deprescribing practices in older people have been the subject of much research generally, there are limited data in older people at the end of life. This highlights the need for research to determine prescribing and deprescribing patterns, as a first step to facilitate guideline development for medicines optimisation in this vulnerable population.


To examine prescribing and deprescribing patterns in older people at the end of life and to determine the prevalence of potentially inappropriate medication use.


A longitudinal, retrospective cohort study where medical records of eligible participants were reviewed, and data extracted. Medication appropriateness was assessed using two sets of consensus-based criteria; the STOPPFrail criteria and criteria developed by Morin et al.


Decedents aged 65 years and older admitted continuously for at least 14 days before death to three inpatient hospice units across Northern Ireland, who died between 1st January and 31st December 2018, and who had a known diagnosis, known cause of death and prescription data. Unexpected/sudden deaths were excluded.


Polypharmacy was reported to be continued until death in 96.2% of 106 decedents (mean age of 75.6 years). Most patients received at least one potentially inappropriate medication at the end of life according to the STOPPFrail and the criteria developed by Morin et al. (57.5 and 69.8% respectively). Limited prevalence of proactive deprescribing interventions was observed.


In the absence of systematic rationalisation of drug treatments, a substantial proportion of older patients continued to receive potentially inappropriate medication until death.

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