International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 1103–1111 | Cite as

Potentially inappropriate medications in a sample of Portuguese nursing home residents: Does the choice of screening tools matter?

  • Filipa Alves da CostaEmail author
  • Catarina Periquito
  • Maria Clara Carneiro
  • Pedro Oliveira
  • Ana Isabel Fernandes
  • Patrícia Cavaco-Silva
Research Article


Background Potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) are often found in high proportion among the elderly population. The STOPP criteria have been suggested to detect more PIMs in European elderly than the Beers criteria. Objective This study aimed to determine the prevalence of PIMs and potential prescribing omissions (PPOs) in a sample of Portuguese nursing homes residents. Setting Four elderly facilities in mainland Portugal Method A descriptive cross-sectional study was used. Elderly polypharmacy patients were included in the study and their medication (registered in patient clinical records) analysed using the Beers (2012 original version and 2008 version adapted to Portugal), STOPP (Screening Tool of Older Person’s Prescriptions) and START (Screening Tool to Alert doctors to Right Treatment) criteria. Data were analysed using univariate and bivariate descriptive statistics, considering a confidence interval of 95 %. Main outcome measures: Prevalence of PIMs and PPOs. Results The sample included 161 individuals, with a mean age of 84.7 years (SD = 6.35), 68.9 % being female. A total of 807 PIMs and 90 PPOs were identified through the application of the three set of criteria. The prevalence of PIMs using the most recent version of the Beers criteria was 85.1 and 42.1 % for independent and dependent of diagnosis, respectively. The Portuguese adaptation of this same tool indicated a lower prevalence of PIMs, 60.3 and 16.7 %, respectively. The prevalence of PIMs using the STOPP criteria was 75.4 %, whilst the prevalence of PPOs, using START, was 42.9 %. There were significant differences in the mean number of PIMs detected depending on the tool used. (p < 0.001). Conclusions The application of the studied criteria in an elderly sample enabled the identification of a notable amount of PIMs and PPOs, indicating there is room for improving the quality of care. The variation in prevalence indicates careful choice of the tool is a prerequisite for engaging in medication review. Using START/STOPP criteria enabled a more holistic approach to the quality of prescribing in the elderly, highlighting low levels of cardiovascular risk prevention and abuse of psychotropic drugs, aside with system failures largely preventable by electronic prescribing and alert generation.


Beers criteria Inappropriate prescriptions Elderly Polypharmacy Pharmaceutical care Nursing homes STOPP criteria START criteria Prescribing omissions Medication review 



The authors wish to thank the people in charge of the elderly facilities that participated in this study and their clinical directors for their full support. We also acknowledge the important contribution of Lawrence Sturm in reviewing the English language.


The study did not receive any specific funding and all costs were entirely supported by Egas Moniz, Cooperativa de Ensino, SRL, located in Campus Universitário, Quinta da Granja, Monte da Caparica, Portugal.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no financial or other relationships that might lead to a conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Investigação Interdisciplinar Egas Moniz (CiiEM), Instituto Superior de Ciências da Saúde Egas Moniz (ISCSEM)CaparicaPortugal
  2. 2.Epidemiology Department (ROR-Sul)Portuguese Institute of Oncology Lisbon Francisco Gentil (IPOLFG)LisbonPortugal
  3. 3.Pharmaceutical Society (OF)LisboaPortugal

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