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Journal Article


Juola AL, Bjorkman MP, Pylkkanen S, Finne-Soveri H, Soini H, Kautiainen H, Simon Bell J, Pitkälä KH. Drugs Aging 2015; 32(11): 947-955.


Unit of Primary Health Care, Helsinki University Central Hospital, PO Box 20, 00014, University of Helsinki, Finland.


(Copyright © 2015, Adis International)






BACKGROUND: Psychotropic and anticholinergic medications may increase the risk of falls and impair cognition.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to investigate whether educating nursing staff in assisted living facilities about harmful medication use has effects on the incidence of falls and cognition.

METHODS: This was a secondary analysis of a cluster randomized controlled trial (N = 227 residents, ≥65 years) in 20 wards in assisted living facilities in Helsinki, Finland. Wards were randomized to those in which staff received two 4-h interactive training sessions to recognize potentially harmful medications (intervention group) and a control group. Cognition (verbal fluency, clock-drawing test) was assessed at baseline and 6 and 12 months. The number of falls per resident over the 12-month follow-up was recorded.

RESULTS: The prevalence of harmful medication use declined in the intervention group {-11.7 % [95 % confidence interval (CI) -20.5 to -2.9]; p = 0.009}, but remained constant in the control group [+3.4 % (95 % CI -3.7 to 10.6); p = 0.34]. There were 171 falls in the intervention group (2.25 falls/person year, 95 % CI 1.93-2.62) and 259 falls in the control group (3.25 falls/person year, 95 % CI 2.87-3.67) [incidence rate ratio 0.72 (95 % CI 0.59-0.88); p < 0.001]. Residents in the intervention group with a Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score ≥10 had significantly less falls compared with respective residents in the control group (p < 0.001). Changes in verbal fluency or clock drawing test were not significantly different between the groups.

CONCLUSION: Educating nurses using activating learning methods can reduce the prevalence of harmful medications and the incidence of falls among residents in institutional settings.

Language: en


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