University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications


Perceptions of Statin Discontinuation among Patients with Life-Limiting Illness

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Cardiovascular Diseases | Health Services Administration | Palliative Care


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.


deprescribing, medication discontinuation, statins

DOI of Published Version



J Palliat Med. 2017 May 18. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2016.0489. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of palliative medicine

PubMed ID