Effectiveness of a complex intervention on Prioritising Multimedication in Multimorbidity (PRIMUM) in primary care: results of a pragmatic cluster randomised controlled trial

Christiane Muth*, Lorenz Uhlmann, Walter E. Haefeli, Justine Rochon, Marjan van den Akker, Rafael Perera, Corina Guthlin, Martin Beyer, Frank Oswald, Jose Maria Valderas, J. Andre Knottnerus, Ferdinand M. Gerlach, Sebastian Harder

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objectives Investigate the effectiveness of a complex intervention aimed at improving the appropriateness of medication in older patients with multimorbidity in general practice. Design Pragmatic, cluster randomised controlled trial with general practice as unit of randomisation. Setting 72 general practices in Hesse, Germany. Participants 505 randomly sampled, cognitively intact patients (>= 60 years, >= 3 chronic conditions under pharmacological treatment, >= 5 long-term drug prescriptions with systemic effects); 465 patients and 71 practices completed the study. Interventions Intervention group (IG): The healthcare assistant conducted a checklist-based interview with patients on medication-related problems and reconciled their medications. Assisted by a computerised decision support system, the general practitioner optimised medication, discussed it with patients and adjusted it accordingly. The control group (CG) continued with usual care. Outcome measures The primary outcome was a modified Medication Appropriateness Index (MAI, excluding item 10 on cost-effectiveness), assessed in blinded medication reviews and calculated as the difference between baseline and after 6 months; secondary outcomes after 6 and 9 months' follow-up: quality of life, functioning, medication adherence, and so on. Results At baseline, a high proportion of patients had appropriate to mildly inappropriate prescriptions (MAI 0-5 points: n=350 patients). Randomisation revealed balanced groups (IG: 36 practices/252 patients; CG: 36/253). Intervention had no significant effect on primary outcome: mean MAI sum scores decreased by 0.3 points in IG and 0.8 points in CG, resulting in a non-significant adjusted mean difference of 0.7 (95% CI - 0.2 to 1.6) points in favour of CG. Secondary outcomes showed non-significant changes (quality of life slightly improved in IG but continued to decline in CG) or remained stable (functioning, medication adherence). Conclusions The intervention had no significant effects. Many patients already received appropriate prescriptions and enjoyed good quality of life and functional status. We can therefore conclude that in our study, there was not enough scope for improvement.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere017740
Number of pages16
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2018


  • Chronic Disease/drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Male
  • Polypharmacy
  • Female
  • Primary Health Care/methods
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Medication Reconciliation
  • Multimorbidity
  • Medication Adherence
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Quality of Life
  • General Practice/organization & administration
  • Aged
  • Germany

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