General practitioner attitudes and confidence to deprescribing for elderly patients
Deprescribing is a patient-centered process of medication withdrawal intended to achieve improved health outcomes through discontinuation of one or more medications that are either potentially harmful or no longer required. The objective of this study was to assess the perceptions of primary care physicians on deprescribing and potential barriers to deprescribing in the Local Health Authority (LHA) of Turin, Piedmont, Italy. Secondary objective was to evaluate educational needs of primary care physician. Cross sectional survey of primary care physicians working in the LHA of Turin, Piedmont, Italy. 439 GPs (71.3% of the total number of primary care physicians) attended an educational session related to deprescribing and were asked to anonymously answer a paper survey. Participants were asked to complete a previously published questionnaire about deprescribing and potential factors affecting the deprescribing process. A correlation coefficient was calculated to assess the association between physicians’ confidence in deprescribing and attitudes or barriers associated with deprescribing. Many GPs (71%) reported general confidence in their ability to deprescribe. Most respondents (83%) reported they were comfortable deprescribing preventive medications, however almost half expressed doubts regarding deprescribing when medication was initially prescribed by a colleague (45%) or when patient and/or caregiver supported the opportunity to continue the assumption (49%). Around a third of doctors maintain that the absence of strong evidence supporting deprescribing prevents them from considering it (38%), that they do not have the necessary time to effectively go through the process of deprescribing (29%), and that fear of possible effects due on withdrawal prevents them from deprescribing (31%). There was no strong correlation between physicians’ confidence and attitudes or barriers associated with deprescribing. The present study confirms that general practitioners sense the importance of deprescribing and feel prepared to face it managing communication with patients and caregivers, but find barriers when enacting the practice in a real-life context.
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