Frequency of Polypharmacy in Advanced Cancer Patients Consulted with the Palliative Service of Imam Khomeini Hospital (Tehran), Iran, 2017

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of Palliative Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

2 Research Expert, Health Policy Research Center, Institute of Health, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.

3 The cancer Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Background: Polypharmacy is defined as the concurrent use of more than four or five medications by an individual.
The prevalence of this condition has increased due to the ageing population and the related illnesses. Use of multiple
medications would increase the risk of side-effects, drug interactions, and medical costs. The present study aimed to
determine the frequency of polypharmacy in the advanced cancer patients. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 92
patients with advanced cancer were selected through convenience sampling from the inpatients and outpatients who
referred to the Palliative Care Unit of Imam Khomeini Hospital (Tehran) in 2017. An examining physician completed a
researcher-made checklist for all the subjects based on the patients’ biography and medical records. Statistical analysis
was performed by using SPSS software (version 19.0) through descriptive and analytical tests at the significance level
of pin 81.5% of the patients (n=75), the most prevalent of which were psychiatric disorders. Eighty-eight percent of the
patients (n=81) were on at least 5 or more medications. Opioids and antacids were the most common medications used
by these patients. Conclusion: The frequency of polypharmacy and average number of consumed medications were
high in patients with advanced cancer. Studying the effectiveness of these medications can highly help the physicians
stop or continue prescribing such medications, and guide the focus of attention towards the drugs that can improve the
patients’ quality of life in the final days.


Main Subjects