BACKGROUND: Given uncertainty surrounding benefits and harms, shifts in patient health status, and changing patient goals and preferences, statin deprescribing may be considered in some older people. This decision should be carefully discussed between GPs and patients.
AIM: To explore how GPs discuss deprescribing of statins with their older patients.
DESIGN & SETTING: A qualitative study was undertaken using face-to-face, semi-structured interviews with Danish GPs from the regions of Southern Demark and Zealand.
METHOD: The GP participants belonged to group practices and were identified from personal networks and snowballing. The interviews lasted approximately 30 minutes and were conducted in English. They were analysed using systematic text condensation.
RESULTS: A total of 11 GPs were interviewed and three themes were identified. (1) Reason for initiating a discussion: statin deprescribing mainly came up when GPs reviewed medication lists. There were differences between GPs regarding when or if they brought up deprescribing. (2) Discussion topics: GPs often discussed their interpretation of evidence surrounding statin use in older people. There were differences in how and if GPs discussed patient preferences. GPs viewed uncertainty and life expectancy as difficult to discuss. (3) Depth of discussion: the perceived level of patient engagement, and clinical context, could influence the extent of discussion.
CONCLUSION: GPs identified a range of topics that could be discussed with patients surrounding statin deprescribing. The depth and content of discussions varied according to the situation, and between GPs. Challenges may exist in communicating around certain topics, such as uncertainty and life expectancy. Further understanding of how to best communicate around challenging topics, and development of structured frameworks, may help facilitate statin deprescribing discussions. Identifying what patients think is important to discuss would provide necessary insight to promote quality discussions and shared understanding of the decision.