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

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


          Randomised controlled single blind trial.


          15 community pharmacies in the Northern Netherlands.


          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.


          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.


          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.


          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


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          Most cited references 40

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          A power primer.

           Jacob Cohen (1992)
          One possible reason for the continued neglect of statistical power analysis in research in the behavioral sciences is the inaccessibility of or difficulty with the standard material. A convenient, although not comprehensive, presentation of required sample sizes is provided here. Effect-size indexes and conventional values for these are given for operationally defined small, medium, and large effects. The sample sizes necessary for .80 power to detect effects at these levels are tabled for eight standard statistical tests: (a) the difference between independent means, (b) the significance of a product-moment correlation, (c) the difference between independent rs, (d) the sign test, (e) the difference between independent proportions, (f) chi-square tests for goodness of fit and contingency tables, (g) one-way analysis of variance, and (h) the significance of a multiple or multiple partial correlation.
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            The timed "Up & Go": a test of basic functional mobility for frail elderly persons.

            This study evaluated a modified, timed version of the "Get-Up and Go" Test (Mathias et al, 1986) in 60 patients referred to a Geriatric Day Hospital (mean age 79.5 years). The patient is observed and timed while he rises from an arm chair, walks 3 meters, turns, walks back, and sits down again. The results indicate that the time score is (1) reliable (inter-rater and intra-rater); (2) correlates well with log-transformed scores on the Berg Balance Scale (r = -0.81), gait speed (r = -0.61) and Barthel Index of ADL (r = -0.78); and (3) appears to predict the patient's ability to go outside alone safely. These data suggest that the timed "Up & Go" test is a reliable and valid test for quantifying functional mobility that may also be useful in following clinical change over time. The test is quick, requires no special equipment or training, and is easily included as part of the routine medical examination.
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              The relation of the trail making test to organic brain damage.

               R REITAN (1955)

                Author and article information

                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                19 July 2018
                : 8
                : 7
                [1 ] departmentGroningen Research Institute of Pharmacy, Unit of PharmacoTherapy, Epidemiology and Economics , University of Groningen , Groningen, Netherlands
                [2 ] departmentDepartment of General Practice , University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen , Groningen, The Netherlands
                [3 ] departmentDiscipline of Pharmacy, Graduate School of Health , University of Technology Sydney , Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Helene G van der Meer; h.g.van.der.meer@
                © 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.

                This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

                Funded by: Koninklijke Nederlandse Maatschappij ter bevordering der Pharmacie;
                Patient-Centred Medicine
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                deprescribing, polypharmacy, muscarinic antagonists, medication review, drug burden index, aged


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