Impact of pharmacist and physician collaborations in primary care on reducing readmission to hospital: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Holly Foot, Ian Scott, Nancy Sturman, Jennifer A. Whitty, Kylie Rixon, Luke Connelly, Ian Williams, Christopher Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Readmissions to hospital due to medication-related problems are common and may be preventable. Pharmacists act to optimise use of medicines during care transitions from hospital to community. 

Objective: To assess the impact of pharmacist-led interventions, which include communication with a primary care physician (PCP) on reducing hospital readmissions. 

Methods: PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, CINAHL and Web of Science were searched for articles published from inception to March 2021 that described interventions involving a pharmacist interacting with a PCP in regards to medication management of patients recently discharged from hospital. The primary outcome was effect on all-cause readmission expressed as Mantel-Haenszel risk ratio (RR) derived from applying a random effects model to pooled data. Sensitivity analysis was also conducted to investigate differences between randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and non-RCTs. The GRADE system was applied in rating the quality of evidence and certainty in the estimates of effect. 

Results: In total, 37 studies were included (16 RCTs and 29 non-RCTs). Compared to control patients, the proportion of intervention patients readmitted at least once was significantly reduced by 13% (RR = 0.87, CI:0.79–0.97, p = 0.01; low to very low certainty of evidence) over follow-up periods of variable duration in all studies combined, and by 22% (RR = 0.78, CI:0.67–0.92; low certainty of evidence) at 30 day follow-up across studies reporting this time point. Analysis of data from RCTs only showed no significant reduction in readmissions (RR = 0.92, CI:0.80–1.06; low certainty of evidence). 

Conclusions: The totality of evidence suggests pharmacist-led interventions with PCP communication are effective in reducing readmissions, especially at 30 days follow-up. Future studies need to adopt more rigorous study designs and apply well-defined patient eligibility criteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2922-2943
Number of pages22
JournalResearch in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Issue number6
Early online date16 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Medication safety
  • Pharmacy: quality use of medicines
  • meta analysis
  • primary care
  • readmission

Cite this