Attitudes to Drug Use in Residential Aged Care Facilities: A Cross-Sectional Survey of Nurses and Care Staff

Sarita Y. Lo, Emily Reeve, Amy T. Page, Syed Tabish R. Zaidi, Sarah N. Hilmer, Christopher Etherton-Beer, Andrew McLachlan, Lisa Pont, Vasi Naganathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Residential aged care facility (RACF) staff are well placed to identify opportunities for more appropriate prescribing. However, little is known about their views of polypharmacy, deprescribing and specific medications. Objective: The objective of this study was to establish the beliefs and attitudes of RACF staff towards polypharmacy and medication use in residents. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted on RACF staff in metropolitan New South Wales, Australia using a self-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire was drafted based on the available literature and research team expertise and then piloted by a mixed group of 13 RACF staff. The final version of the questionnaire consisted of 28 questions. A total of 38 RACFs were contacted about the study. The questionnaire was distributed to eligible RACF staff between October 2017 and October 2019. The RACF staff were eligible if they provided direct patient care to residents or worked as a facility manager. Participants were excluded if they had insufficient English language skills. The results were presented in two groups, the nursing and care staff, using descriptive statistics. Results: A total of 176 individuals from nine RACFs completed the questionnaire of whom 160 were eligible for study inclusion. Most considered polypharmacy to be five or more different tablets and capsules per day (95% nursing and 82% care staff respectively). A wide range of beliefs about medication use and deprescribing that centred on what constitutes appropriate polypharmacy was identified. Most thought that preventive medications were essential for residents. Most nurses agreed that sleeping tablets and pharmacological management of verbal aggression and wandering behaviours should be used less frequently whilst most care staff agreed that medications should be used more frequently to manage physical aggression. Conclusions: To successfully and sustainably optimise medication use in RACF residents, it is important to consider the variation in views of nurses and care staff.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-711
Number of pages15
JournalDrugs and Aging
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


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