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GPs view anticipatory medications as key to symptom management for patients at the end of life. The drugs are often presented as a clinical recommendation to ensure patients and families accept the prescription. GPs need regular access to nurses and rely on their skills to administer drugs appropriately."
- Ben Bowers

A new study, conducted by SPCR DPhil student Ben Bowers, reveals more about the GP's role in prescribing anticipatory medication and recommends thorough and suitably skilled assessments take place before medications are administered.

Anticipatory medications are those prescribed by doctors to patients who are approaching the end of life and living at home. The medications, also referred to as 'Just in Case' drugs, are prescribed by GPs weeks before they are likely to be needed. They can be administered at home thereby relieving symptoms without delay. 

Ben Bowers, lead author and member of the Cambridge Palliative and End of Life Care Research Group commented “Our study is the first to identify that anticipatory medications are used as a sign to alert other visiting clinicians to the terminal nature of the patient’s condition. Having the drugs in place enabled unfamiliar doctors and nurses to make care decisions, sometimes without visiting”.

Read the press release from the University of Cambridge.

Publication: B Bowers, S S Barclay, K Pollock and S Barclay GPs’ decisions about prescribing end-of-life anticipatory medications: a qualitative study BJGP 7 Sept 2020