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Interventions can improve medication habits in patients with dementia, but do not improve health outcomes

McGrattan M, Ryan C, Barry HE, et al.  Interventions to improve medicines management for people with dementia: A systematic review  Drugs and aging. 2017; 34(12): 907-916.

Review question

  • What is known about the effectiveness of interventions aiming to help improve medication habits of patients with dementia?


  • Individuals with dementia have difficulty following complicated medication plans due to cognitive impairments.
  • Currently, patients often receive help from informal and family caregivers to follow their medication plans.
  • This systematic review seeks to explore the effectiveness of promising interventions such as relying on home-care staff or nursing visits to improve medication habits of people with dementia.

How the review was done

  • A detailed search of a number of electronic databases for studies published from February 2016 up to mid 2017 was conducted. Studies that focused on medication habits for people with dementia were included in the review.
  • A total of 990 studies were identified in the initial database search, and three were included in the review.
  • The systematic review was funded by the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland, the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland and the Atlantic Philanthropies.

What the researchers found

  • The systematic review found that interventions such as relying on home-care staff or nursing visits were effective at helping patients take medication as prescribed in care homes.  
  • Research evidence suggests that community-based interventions were not effective at improving medication habits in patients.
  • Interventions were not effective at improving individual health outcomes such as mental well-being or reducing the risk of falls among people with dementia.


  • While interventions were effective at helping patients improve medication habits in care homes, they were ineffective in the community setting.
  • Interventions were not effective at improving mental well-being or reducing the risk of falls.


Cognitive impairment
Trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect everyday life.
Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

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