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

Publication Type:
Journal Article
BMJ Open, 2018, 8 (7)
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© Article author(s) (or their employer(s) unless otherwise stated in the text of the article) 2018. All rights reserved. No commercial use is permitted unless otherwise expressly granted. 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. Trial registration number NCT02317666.
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