How do physicians conduct medication reviews?

Derjung M. Tarn, Debora A Paterniti, Richard L Kravitz, Stephanie Fein, Neil S. Wenger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: Medication reviews are recommended annually for older patients. A medication review is a discussion of a patient's complete set of medications, but the actual content of a review is not well specified. The medical literature suggests that it is an exhaustive evaluation, but what physicians actually ask about their patients' medication regimens has been little studied. Objective: To describe what physicians do when they review medications in the office setting. Methods: Qualitative content analysis of audio-taped encounters between 100 patients aged 65 and older and 28 primary care physicians in two health care systems in Sacramento, California. Results: Physicians use a combination of non-mutually exclusive strategies when reviewing chronic medications that include: (1) efforts to obtain a complete list of patient medications (36% of visits), (2) discussion of a topic related to the management of each of a patient's chronic medications (47% of visits), and (3) sequential discussion of the majority of a patient's medications without intervening discussion (45% of visits). Of 10 medication management topics that were discussed in medication reviews, a mean of 1.5 topics (SD = 1.7, range 0-7) were mentioned for each medication, with efficacy and directions being most common. Physicians conducted a sequential discussion that included discussion of each of a patient's medications in only 32% of visits. Conclusions: Comprehensive discussions about chronic medications are uncommon in routine practice. Practical conceptualization of what constitutes a physician-conducted medication review is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1296-1302
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of General Internal Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • Drug therapy management
  • Medication review
  • Pharmaceutical care
  • Physician-patient communication
  • Qualitative methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'How do physicians conduct medication reviews?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this