Advancing the Science of Deprescribing: A Novel Comprehensive Conceptual Framework

Amy Linsky*, Walid F. Gellad, Jeffrey A. Linder, Mark W. Friedberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Polypharmacy is common in older adults and associated with inappropriate medication use, adverse drug events, medication nonadherence, higher costs, and increased mortality compared with those without polypharmacy. Deprescribing, the clinically supervised process of stopping or reducing the dose of medications when they cause harm or no longer provide benefit, may improve outcomes. Although potentially beneficial, clinicians struggle to overcome structural, organizational, technological, and cognitive barriers to deprescribing, limiting its use in clinical practice. Deprescribing science would benefit from a unifying conceptual framework to prioritize research. Current deprescribing conceptual frameworks have made important contributions to the field but often with a focus on specific medication classes or aspects of deprescribing. To further this relatively nascent field, we developed a broader deprescribing conceptual framework that builds on prior frameworks and includes patient, prescriber, and system influences; the process of deprescribing; outcomes; and dissemination. Patient factors include patients' biology, experience, values, and preferences. Prescriber factors include rational (eg, based on explicit knowledge) and nonrational (eg, behavioral tendencies, biases, and heuristics) decision making. System factors include resources, incentives, goals, and culture that contribute to deprescribing. The framework separates the deprescribing decision from the deprescribing process. The framework captures the results of deprescribing by examining changes in clinical structures, performance processes, patient experience, health outcomes, and cost. Through testing and refinement, this novel, more comprehensive conceptual framework has the potential to advance deprescribing research by organizing the existing evidence, identifying evidence gaps, and categorizing deprescribing interventions and the settings in which they are applied. J Am Geriatr Soc 67:2018–2022, 2019.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2018-2022
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • behavioral economics
  • clinical decision making
  • health services for older adults
  • implementation science
  • polypharmacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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