Perceptions of Statin Discontinuation among Patients with Life-Limiting Illness

Jennifer Tjia, Jean S. Kutner, Christine S. Ritchie, Patrick J. Blatchford, Rachael E. Bennett Kendrick, Maryjo Prince-Paul, Tamara J. Somers, Mary Lynn McPherson, Jeff A. Sloan, Amy P. Abernethy, Jon P. Furuno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Optimal management of chronic medications for patients with life-limiting illness is uncertain. Medication deprescribing may improve outcomes in this population, but patient concerns regarding deprescribing are unclear. Objective: The aim of this study was to quantify the perceived benefits and concerns of statin discontinuation among patients with life-limiting illness. Design: Baseline data from a multicenter, pragmatic clinical trial of statin discontinuation were used. Setting/Subjects: Cognitively intact participants with a life expectancy of 1-12 months receiving statin medications for primary or secondary prevention were enrolled. Measurements: Responses to a 9-item questionnaire addressing patient concerns about discontinuing statins were collected. We used Pearson chi-square tests to compare responses by primary life-limiting diagnosis (cancer, cardiovascular disease, other). Results: Of 297 eligible participants, 58% had cancer, 8% had cardiovascular disease, and 30% other primary diagnoses. Mean (standard deviation) age was 72 (11) years. Fewer than 5% of participants expressed concern that statin deprescribing indicated physician abandonment. About one in five participants reported being told to take statins for the rest of their life (18%) or feeling that discontinuation represented prior wasted effort (18%). Many participants reported benefits of stopping statins, including spending less money on medications (63%), potentially stopping other medications (34%), and having a better quality of life (25%). More participants with cardiovascular disease as a primary diagnosis perceived that quality-of-life benefits related to statin discontinuation (52%) than participants with cancer (27%) or noncardiovascular disease diagnoses (27%) [p = 0.034]. Conclusion: Few participants expressed concerns about discontinuing statins; many perceived potential benefits. Cardiovascular disease patients perceived greater potential positive impact from statin discontinuation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1098-1103
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • deprescribing
  • medication discontinuation
  • statins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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