Prescribing for comorbid disease in a palliative population: focus on the use of lipid-lowering medications.


Journal Article

BACKGROUND: The balance of benefit versus burden of ongoing treatments for comorbid disease in palliative populations as death approaches needs careful consideration given their particular susceptibility to adverse drug effects. AIM: To provide descriptive data regarding the medications being prescribed to patients who have a life-limiting illness at the time of referral to a palliative care service in regional Australia, with particular focus on lipid-lowering medications. METHODS: A prospective case note review of 203 patients reporting the number of medications prescribed and, for lipid-lowering medications, the indication and level of prevention sought (primary, secondary, tertiary). Rates were compared by performance status, disease phase and comorbidity burden. RESULTS: Mean number of regular medications prescribed was 7.2, with higher rates observed in those patients with a non-malignant primary diagnosis (rate ratio 1.28, confidence interval (CI) 1.11-1.50) or poorer performance status (rate ratio 1.37, CI 1.11-1.69) and lower rates for those in the terminal phase of disease (rate ratio 0.48, CI 0.30-0.76). Over one fifth of patients were prescribed a lipid-lowering medication, and two fifths of these prescriptions were for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Patients in the highest quartile of Charlson Comorbidity Index score were 4.6 (CI 2.06-10.09) times more likely to be prescribed a lipid-lowering medication than those in the lowest quartile. CONCLUSIONS: Polypharmacy is prevalent for this group of patients, placing them at high risk of drug-drug and drug-host interactions. Prescribing may be driven by risk factors and disease guidelines rather than a rational, patient-centred approach.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Russell, BJ; Rowett, D; Abernethy, AP; Currow, DC

Published Date

  • February 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 44 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 177 - 184

PubMed ID

  • 24341863

Pubmed Central ID

  • 24341863

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1445-5994

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1444-0903

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/imj.12340


  • eng