Reducing the anticholinergic and sedative load in older patients on polypharmacy by pharmacist-led medication review: A randomised controlled trial

van der Meer, H. G., Wouters, H., Pont, L. G. & Taxis, K., 19-Jul-2018, In : BMJ Open. 8, 7, p. e019042

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OBJECTIVE: To evaluate if a pharmacist-led medication review is effective at reducing the anticholinergic/sedative load, as measured by the Drug Burden Index (DBI).

DESIGN: Randomised controlled single blind trial.

SETTING: 15 community pharmacies in the Northern Netherlands.

PARTICIPANTS: 157 community-dwelling patients aged ≥65 years who used ≥5 medicines for ≥3 months, including at least one psycholeptic/psychoanaleptic medication and who had a DBI≥1.

INTERVENTION: A medication review by the community pharmacist in collaboration with the patient's general practitioner and patient.

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOMES MEASURES: The primary outcome was the proportion of patients whose DBI decreased by at least 0.5. Secondary outcomes were the presence of anticholinergic/sedative side effects, falls, cognitive function, activities of daily living, quality of life, hospital admission and mortality. Data were collected at baseline and 3 months follow-up.

RESULTS: Mean participant age was 75.7 (SD, 6.9) years in the intervention arm and 76.6 (SD, 6.7) years in the control arm, the majority were female (respectively 69.3% and 72.0%). Logistic regression analysis showed no difference in the proportion of patients with a≥0.5 decrease in DBI between intervention arm (17.3%) and control arm (15.9%), (OR 1.04, CI 0.47 to 2.64, p=0.927). Intervention patients scored higher on the Digit Symbol Substitution Test, measure of cognitive function (OR 2.02, CI 1.11 to 3.67, p=0.021) and reported fewer sedative side effects (OR 0.61, CI 0.40 to 0.94, p=0.024) at follow-up. No significant difference was found for other secondary outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS: Pharmacist-led medication review as currently performed in the Netherlands was not effective in reducing the anticholinergic/sedative load, measured with the DBI, within the time frame of 3 months. Preventive strategies, signalling a rising load and taking action before chronic use of anticholinergic/sedative medication is established may be more successful.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e019042
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 19-Jul-2018

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