Drugs & Aging

, Volume 30, Issue 10, pp 793–807 | Cite as

Patient Barriers to and Enablers of Deprescribing: a Systematic Review

  • Emily Reeve
  • Josephine To
  • Ivanka Hendrix
  • Sepehr Shakib
  • Michael S. Roberts
  • Michael D. Wiese
Systematic Review



Inappropriate medication use is common in the elderly and the risks associated with their use are well known. The term deprescribing has been utilised to describe the complex process that is required for the safe and effective cessation of inappropriate medications. Given the primacy of the consumer in health care, their views must be central in the development of any deprescribing process.


The aim of this study was to identify barriers and enablers that may influence a patient’s decision to cease a medication.

Data sources

A systematic search of MEDLINE, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, EMBASE, CINAHL, Informit and Scopus was conducted and augmented with a manual search. Numerous search terms relating to withdrawal of medications and consumers’ beliefs were utilised.

Study eligibility criteria

Articles were included if the barriers or enablers were directly patient/carer reported and related to long-term medication(s) that they were currently taking or had recently ceased.

Study appraisal and synthesis methods

Determination of relevance and data extraction was performed independently by two reviewers. Content analysis with coding was utilised for synthesis of results.


Twenty-one articles met the criteria and were included in the review. Three themes, disagreement/agreement with ‘appropriateness’ of cessation, absence/presence of a ‘process’ for cessation, and negative/positive ‘influences’ to cease medication, were identified as both potential barriers and enablers, with ‘fear’ of cessation and ‘dislike’ of medications as a fourth barrier and enabler, respectively. The most common barrier/enabler identified was ‘appropriateness’ of cessation, with 15 studies identifying this as a barrier and 18 as an enabler.

Conclusions and implications of key findings

The decision to stop a medication by an individual is influenced by multiple competing barriers and enablers. Knowledge of these will aid in the development of a deprescribing process, particularly in approaching the topic of cessation with the patient and what process should be utilised. However, further research is required to determine if the proposed patient-centred deprescribing process will result in improved patient outcomes.


Hormone Replacement Therapy Primary Care Physician Medication Class Inappropriate Medication Narrative Synthesis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Emily Reeve is a recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award PhD scholarship of which this research was conducted within. She has also received speaker honorarium for an Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacy workshop. Emily Reeve and Josephine To received a Society of Hospital Pharmacists Association/Celegene Information Technology in Hospital Pharmacy Grant (for a non-related project conducted at a similar time to this study). Ivanka Hendrix, Sepehr Shakib, Michael S. Roberts and Michael D. Wiese have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to this study.

Supplementary material

40266_2013_106_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (180 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 179 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily Reeve
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Josephine To
    • 2
  • Ivanka Hendrix
    • 4
  • Sepehr Shakib
    • 3
  • Michael S. Roberts
    • 1
    • 5
  • Michael D. Wiese
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Sansom InstituteUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.School of Pharmacy and Medical SciencesUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Clinical PharmacologyRoyal Adelaide HospitalAdelaideAustralia
  4. 4.Pharmacy DepartmentRepatriation General HospitalDaw ParkAustralia
  5. 5.Therapeutics Research Centre, School of MedicineUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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