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This article is the author's final published version in BMC Geriatrics, Volume 21, Issue 1, March 2021, Article number 218.

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BACKGROUND: A multimodal general practitioner-focused intervention in the Local Health Authority (LHA) of Parma, Italy, substantially reduced the prevalence of potentially inappropriate medication (PIM) use among older adults. Our objective was to estimate changes in hospitalization rates associated with the Parma LHA quality improvement initiative that reduced PIM use.

METHODS: This population-based longitudinal cohort study was conducted among older residents (> 65 years) using the Parma LHA administrative healthcare database. Crude and adjusted unplanned hospitalization rates were estimated in 3 periods (pre-intervention: 2005-2008, intervention: 2009-2010, post-intervention: 2011-2014). Multivariable negative binomial models estimated trends in quarterly hospitalization rates among individuals at risk during each period using a piecewise linear spline for time, adjusted for time-dependent and time-fixed covariates.

RESULTS: The pre-intervention, intervention, and post-intervention periods included 117,061, 107,347, and 121,871 older adults and had crude hospitalization rates of 146.2 (95% CI: 142.2-150.3), 146.8 (95% CI: 143.6-150.0), and 140.8 (95% CI: 136.9-144.7) per 1000 persons per year, respectively. The adjusted pre-intervention hospitalization rate was declining by 0.7% per quarter (IRR = 0.993; 95% CI: 0.991-0.995). The hospitalization rate declined more than twice as fast during the intervention period (1.8% per quarter, IRR = 0.982; 95% CI: 0.979-0.985) and was nearly constant post-intervention (IRR: 0.999; 95% CI: 0.997-1.001). Contrasting model predictions for the intervention period (Q1 2009 to Q4 2010), the intervention was associated with 1481 avoided hospitalizations.

CONCLUSION: In a large population of older adults, a multimodal general practitioner-focused intervention to decrease PIM use was associated with a decline in the unplanned hospitalization rate. Such interventions to reduce high risk medication use among older adults warrant consideration by health systems seeking to improve health outcomes and reduce high-cost acute care utilization.

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