Course Overview


The challenge of deprescribing is to apply quality use of medicines principles using a person-centred approach where polypharmacy, co-morbidities and fragility converge with a lack of evidence or guidelines to aid decision-making.

Learning Outcomes

  • Correlate the challenges of an ageing population with medication use and polypharmacy
  • Explain to the patient or their carer the rationale for deprescribing medicines as indicated
  • Critically evaluate medicines that are at higher risk of causing older adults to experience medication-related problems
  • Plan and initiate a withdrawal trial taking into account medicines that should be ceased slowly

Topics include:

  • Incidence of medication use
  • Polypharmacy and principles of deprescribing
  • Barriers to deprescribing
  • Classes of medicines for deprescribing
  • Planning withdrawal

Target audience

Nurse practitioners and other health professionals who prescribe medications or are heavily involved in medication management.


Confidently consider whether to continue, reduce or cease medications that are not effective or may no longer be appropriate for a particular person.


It is well known that polypharmacy has the potential to result in adverse events for patients. Therefore, the prescribing process must not only include a review, but also cessation of medicines. Cessation of medications may be a particularly appropriate action in certain clinical situations amongst older adults. Deprescribing has been described as the systematic process of identifying and discontinuing potentially inappropriate medicines with the aim of minimising polypharmacy and improving patient outcomes. A recent network analysis of the various definitions used in multiple articles across many countries proposed this definition: “Deprescribing is the process of withdrawal of an inappropriate medication, supervised by a health care professional with the goal of managing polypharmacy and improving outcomes.” Reviewing a patient’s medication regime, and ceasing unnecessary medicines, can lead to an improved quality of life for patients.

Health professionals in Australia that are registered with AHPRA are required to obtain continuing professional development (CPD) hours/points each year that relates to their context of practice, in order to comply with mandatory regulatory requirements.