In the elderly population, increased predisposition to chronic diseases and consequent use of various medications increases the chances of using a potentially inappropriate drug therapy. The purpose of this review was to analyze research that uses tools to study potentially inappropriate drug therapy through the strengthening the reporting of observational studies in epidemiology (STROBE) initiative. A systematic review was undertaken between February and March, 2013. The studies were selected from different combinations of the Medicine's controlled vocabulary thesaurus (MESH) terms - “aged,” “elderly,” “inappropriate prescribing,” and “drug utilization” in English, Spanish and Portuguese, in the Literatura Latino-Americana e do Caribe em Ciências da Saúde, PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science databases. The papers that satisfied the inclusion criteria for data extraction were examined regarding the following variables: country, sample size, duration, type of study, practice scenario, study limitations and fulfillment of the items proposed by the STROBE initiative. At the end of the selection process, 119 articles met the specific criteria. The US had the highest number of publications in this area. The samples observed were heterogeneous, ranging from patient to database samples, and most studies were cross-sectional. The most frequently used study practice scenarios were hospitals or outpatient clinics. No article completely met the STROBE criteria. It was found that potentially inappropriate drug therapy is studied primarily in developed countries, which reinforces the need for further studies in developing countries. These findings should guide future research in this subject area, providing a more complete approach on aspects related to the use of medications by this specific population.
Key words: Potentially inappropriate drug therapy, inappropriate prescribing, elderly, study quality assessment.
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