Clinical research that matters: Designing outcome-based research for older adults to qualify for systematic reviews and meta-analyses

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Though older adults are more sensitive to the effects of medications than their younger counterparts, they are often excluded from manufacturer-based clinical studies. Practice-based research is a practical method to identify medication-related effects in older patients. This research also highlights the role of a pharmacist in improving care in this population. A single study rarely has strong enough evidence to change geriatric practice, unless it is a large-scale, multisite, randomized controlled trial that specifically targets older adults. It is important to design studies that may be used in systematic reviews or meta-analyses that build a stronger evidence base. Recent literature has documented a gap in advanced pharmacist training pertaining to research skills. In this paper, we hope to fill some of the educational gaps related to research in older adults. We define best practices when deciding on the type of study, inclusion and exclusion criteria, design of the intervention, how outcomes are measured, and how results are reported. Well-designed studies increase the pool of available data to further document the important role that pharmacists have in optimizing care of older patients.

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