Caregiver-Based Interventions to Optimize Medication Safety in Vulnerable Elderly Adults: A Systematic Evidence-Based Review

Kamal C. Wagle, Elaine N. Skopelja, Noll L. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: To study the effect of caregiver-focused interventions to support medication safety in older adults with chronic disease. Design: Systematic review. Setting: Studies published before January 31, 2017, searched using Ovid Medline, PubMed, EMBASE, Scopus, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Google Scholar. Participants: Caregivers with or without a care recipient. Measurements: Inclusion criteria: interventions focused on caregivers aiming to improve medication safety. Studies not focusing on older adults, not evaluating medication safety, failing to include caregivers, or without a comparison group were excluded. Results: The initial search revealed 1,311 titles. Eight studies met inclusion criteria. The strategies used in randomized trials were a home-based medication review and adherence assessment by a clinical pharmacist (2 home visits 6–8 weeks apart, with pharmacist and physician meeting independently) that found no difference in nonelective hospital admissions (p=.8) but fewer medications (p=.03); a 19-minute educational DVD and an hour-long medication education and training that improved caregiver satisfaction (p<.04); a medication education and adherence intervention (2–3 home visits per care recipient and caregiver dyad over 8 weeks) that found no difference in knowledge, administration, or accessibility of medications (p=.29); and a collaborative case management program (16-month program of assessment, meeting, and monthly follow-up telephone calls) that reduced perceived caregiver burden (p=.03). Quasi-experimental trials included collaborative care transitional coaches, an outpatient collaborative care model, and education and training programs. Of these, educational interventions showed improvements in self-efficacy, confidence, and preparedness. The collaborative care intervention reduced rehospitalizations (p=.04) and improved quality-of-care outcomes. Conclusion: Although some interventions improved caregiver medication knowledge and self-efficacy, effects on clinical outcomes and healthcare use were insufficiently studied. Two studies implementing collaborative care models with medication management components showed potential for improvement in quality of clinical care and reductions in healthcare visits and warrant further study with respect to medication safety. J Am Geriatr Soc 66:2128–2135, 2018.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2128-2135
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • aged
  • caregivers
  • chronic disease
  • medication adherence
  • medication safety
  • older adults
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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