A patient-centred approach to medicines optimisation is considered essential. The OPtimising thERapy to prevent Avoidable hospital admissions in Multimorbid older people (OPERAM) trial evaluated the effectiveness of medication review with shared decision-making (SDM) in older people with multimorbidity. Beyond evaluating the clinical effectiveness, exploring the patient experience facilitates a better understanding of contextual factors and mechanisms affecting medication review effectiveness.
To explore experiences of hospital-initiated medication changes in older people with multimorbidity.
We conducted a multicentre mixed-methods study, embedded in the OPERAM trial, combining semi-structured interviews and the Beliefs about Medicines Questionnaire (BMQ) with a purposive sample of 48 patients (70-94 years) from four European countries. Interviews were analysed using the Framework approach. Trial implementation data on SDM were collected and the 9-item SDM questionnaire was conducted with 17 clinicians.
Patients generally displayed positive attitudes towards medication review, yet emphasised the importance of long-term, trusting relationships such as with their general practitioners for medication review. Many patients reported a lack of information and communication about medication changes and predominantly experienced paternalistic decision-making. Patients' beliefs that 'doctors know best', 'blind trust', having limited opportunities for questions, use of jargon terms by clinicians, 'feeling too ill', dismissive clinicians, etc highlight the powerlessness some patients felt during hospitalisation, all representing barriers to SDM. Conversely, involvement of companions, health literacy, empathetic and trusting patient-doctor relationships, facilitated SDM. Paradoxical to patients' experiential accounts, clinicians reported high levels of SDM. The BMQ showed that most patients had high necessity and low concern beliefs about medicines. Beliefs about medicines, experiencing benefits or harms from medication changes, illness perception, trust and balancing advice between different healthcare professionals all affected acceptance of medication changes.
To meet patients' needs, future medicines optimisation interventions should enhance information exchange, better prepare patients and clinicians for partnership in care and foster collaborative medication reviews across care settings.