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Original article

Vol. 153 No. 9 (2023)

Inappropriate proton-pump inhibitor prescribing in primary care – an observational study with quality circles

  • Renata Vidonscky Lüthold
  • Nicole Christin Henz
  • Connor Fuhrer
  • Andrea Häner
  • Michael Schenk
  • Katharina Tabea Jungo
  • Sven Streit
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2023;153:40119


INTRODUCTION: Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) should be deprescribed when an indication is lacking or the dose is too high. Academic and media reports have tried to raise awareness and thereby reduce the inappropriate prescribing of PPIs. However, pharmacoepidemiologic studies have shown an unchanged frequency of such inappropriate prescribing over time. Little is known about whether or how general practitioners (GPs) adapt their prescribing practices once their awareness of inappropriate PPI prescribing has been raised.

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to investigate the prevalence of potentially inappropriate PPI prescribing (too high dose or no indication) in a consecutive sample of patients in Swiss primary care settings. Our goal was then to evaluate how GPs managed the patients with potentially inappropriate PPI prescribing over 12 months after flagging these patients.

METHODS: In this observational study, 11 GPs from the canton of Bern in Switzerland used their medical records to identify 20 patients who had been prescribed a PPI for ≥8 weeks and flagged potentially inappropriate PPI prescribing in their records. After 12 months, we asked the same GPs whether the PPI prescriptions of those patients had changed and, if so, how.

RESULTS: Of 1,376 patients consecutively screened, 206 (15%) had been prescribed a PPI for ≥8 weeks. Of these 206 patients, 85 (41%) had a potentially inappropriate PPI prescription. Of these 85 patients, 55 (65%) had no indication for PPI, and 30 (35%) had a too-high dose. After one year, only 29 (35%) of the 84 flagged potentially inappropriate PPIs were stopped or reduced. The most frequently mentioned reasons that deprescribing was not possible were a lack of discussion with the patient (no contact or no time), the presence of symptoms requiring the PPI, or the unwillingness of the patient to deprescribe.

CONCLUSION: In the Swiss primary care setting, the rate of potentially inappropriate PPI prescribing is high. Having GPs flag potentially inappropriate PPI prescribing did not result in PPI deprescribing in most patients over 12 months. Our findings suggest that more personalised and targeted interventions are necessary to successfully implement the deprescribing of potentially inappropriate PPIs. We see the need to co-design interventions with patients and providers and test behavioural change techniques to enable the deprescribing of inappropriate PPIs.


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