Pi Phi Chapter

Potential Food-Drug Interactions in Long-Term Care

Nursing Research on the Green

2011 Abstract

Judy K. Anderson, Ph.D, RN, CNE 
Jodie Rox, BSN, RN-BC 
Viterbo University 


  • Background: Standardized medication times are utilized in many institutions for drug administration. This facilitates efficient use of nursing time and can enhance patient safety. However, these times often occur at mealtimes posing a potential risk for food-drug interactions. 
  • Significance: Older adults are at high risk for food-drug interactions as this population: (a) consumes 1/3 of all prescription drugs, (b) have complex drug regimes, and (c) encounter physiologic changes that can alter drug absorption and metabolism. Research in this area is limited and dated. 
  • Purpose/objective: The purpose of this study was to answer the questions: What is the frequency of potential food-drug interactions when using standardized medication administration times? and What medication groups are most frequently administered at times when food-drug interactions may occur? 
  • Methods/project: Database analysis conducted of medications scheduled at mealtimes from 4 long-term care facilities in the Upper Midwest. Frequency data were compiled of potential food-drug interactions and the type of interaction possible. 
  • Results: Forty-nine percent of medications scheduled at mealtimes had the potential for food-drug interaction. Cardiovascular, followed by neurological, agents were the most frequently scheduled medication group with a potential for drug-food interaction. Potential interactions with specific food elements and a potential decrease in absorption were the most frequently observed interaction types. The researchers acknowledge the actual administration times were unknown and interactions are only potential.
  • Clinical Implications: The practice of standardized medication times corresponding with mealtimes presents the possibility of multiple adverse reactions as a result of increased bioavailability of medications, or a sub-therapeutic response resulting from decreased drug bioavailability. Either have a potential economic impact on healthcare costs. Findings of this study suggest a need for enhanced awareness of the potential for food drug-interactions, along with a need to identify creative and individualized scheduling that maintains safety in drug administration while preserving nursing care quality and time.

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