Health care providers’ roles and responsibilities in management of polypharmacy: Results of a modified Delphi Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background: Little is known about the roles that allow interprofessional teams to effectively manage older patients experiencing polypharmacy. Objectives: To identify and examine the consensus on salient interprofessional roles, responsibilities and competencies required in managing polypharmacy. Methods: Four focus groups with 35 team members practising in geriatrics were generated to inform survey development. The sessions generated 63 competencies, roles or responsibilities, which were categorized into 4 domains defined by the Canadian Interprofessional Health Collaborative. The resulting survey was administered nationally to geriatric health care professionals who were asked to rate the importance of each item in managing polypharmacy; we sought agreement within and across professions using a confirmatory 2-round Delphi method. Results: Round 1 was completed by 98 survey respondents and round 2 by 72. There was high intra-professional and interprofessional consensus regarding the importance of competencies among physicians, nurses and pharmacists; though pharmacists rated fewer competencies as important. Less consensus was observed among other health care professionals or they indicated the nonimportance of competencies despite focus group discussion to the contrary. Discussion: Although there is a strong consensus of polypharmacy management competencies across team members who have been more traditionally involved in medication management, there continue to be health care providers with differing understandings of competencies that may contribute to reduced reliance on medication. Lower importance ratings suggest pharmacists may not acknowledge or recognize their own potential roles in interprofessional polypharmacy management. Conclusion: Further exploration to understand the underutilization of professional expertise in managing polypharmacy will contribute to refining role clarity and translating competencies in practical settings, as well as guiding educators regarding curricular content.


  • Farrell, Barbara
  • Thompson, Wade
  • Black, Cody D
  • Archibald, Douglas
  • Raman-Wilms, Lalitha
  • Grassau, Pamela
  • Patel, Tejal
  • Weaver, Lynda
  • Eid, Khaled
  • Winslade, Nancy

publication date

  • November 2018