Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Clinical and Population Health Research


Population and Quantitative Health Sciences

First Thesis Advisor

Kate Lapane


statins, pharmacotherapy, pharmacoepidemiology, polypharmacy, geographic variation, deprescribing, long-term care, nursing home, older adults, Medicare beneficiaries


Background: Statins have questionable benefits among older adults with life-limiting illness. Statin use is widespread among U.S. older adults, but little is known about use in nursing homes. This dissertation was designed to identify the prevalence and predictors of statin pharmacotherapy use and discontinuation in U.S. nursing homes.

Methods: Data sources (2011-2016) included: Minimum Data Set 3.0, Medicare administrative claims data, Provider of Service files, and Dartmouth Atlas files. Analyses included: descriptive statistics, multilevel modeling, and proportional change in cluster variations with adjustments to reduce confounding and model misspecification.

Results: Approximately 36% of older adults admitted to U.S. nursing homes between 2015 – 2016 were actively using statins at the time of admission. Among long-stay residents with life-limiting illness, 34% were on statins at one time (2016; aged 65-75 years: 44%, >75 years: 31%). Statin use varied significantly by hospital referral regions, with most variation in the >75 age group. Limiting the sample to statin users, 20% discontinued statins within 30 days of nursing home admission. While discontinuation was positively associated with severity of life-limiting condition, the majority of residents remained on statins 30 days post-admission, including those with a < 6-month prognosis.

Conclusion: Statin use is pervasive across US nursing homes and persists with life-limiting illness. Geographic variation appeared to coincide with clinical uncertainty, especially among adults >75 with few national guidelines. More needs to be done to prioritize statin deprescribing in nursing homes with research that identifies ways to facilitate improved patient-provider awareness and engagement in the discontinuation process.



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Available for download on Sunday, September 18, 2022