“I Think Deprescribing as a Whole Is a Gap!”: A Qualitative Study of Student Pharmacist Perceptions about Deprescribing

Sydney P. Springer, Alina Cernasev, Rachel E. Barenie, David R. Axon, Devin Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction: Older adults often manage multiple medications simultaneously, contributing to significant pill burden. Pill burden is a major concern for both patients and providers alike, and student pharmacists may play a role in decreasing that burden. Few studies exist evaluating student pharmacists’ roles in and perceptions of deprescribing in the healthcare team. Thus, the aim of this study was to explore student pharmacist perceptions regarding deprescribing in their pharmacy curricula. Methods: This study used a focus group discussion (FGD) methodology to facilitate discussion on deprescribing among student pharmacists. The theory of planned behavior (TPB) informed the conceptualization of this study, data collection, and thematic analysis. Student pharmacists enrolled in three different colleges of pharmacy across various geographical regions of the U.S. were recruited to participate in the study. Data collection occurred in the Fall of 2021, and recruitment proceeded until thematic saturation was achieved. The audio recordings were transcribed verbatim, and the transcripts were uploaded into Dedoose®, a qualitative software that facilitated the data analysis. The inductive codes were grouped into categories based on similarities that resulted in the themes. Results: Three colleges, totaling 1366 student pharmacists across different geographic regions of the U.S., were invited to participate in this study (UTHSC, N = 682; UNE, N = 158, University of Arizona, N = 526). Twenty-six student pharmacists participated in four FGDs. Of 26 participants, fourteen self-identified as male and two declined to state their gender identity. The mean age was 24 years old, with participants ranging from 21 to 37 years old. Thematic analysis revealed two major themes: (1) student pharmacists indicated that they possessed limited information about the deprescribing process, which is best illustrated by the following quote: “I think deprescribing as a whole is a gap!”; and (2) student pharmacists recommended increasing emphasis on deprescribing in pharmacy curricula. Conclusions: Student pharmacists identified few educational experiences on deprescribing in their curriculum while demonstrating a strong desire for more emphasis on deprescribing in the pharmacy curricula. This study highlights an opportunity to improve the integration of deprescribing education into pharmacy curricula, and colleges of pharmacy should evaluate whether, where, and to what extent the incorporation of this topic into their curricula is appropriate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number60
JournalGeriatrics (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • United States of America
  • deprescribing
  • pharmacy education
  • student pharmacist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Aging
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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