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      Clinical Interventions in Aging (submit here)

      This international, peer-reviewed Open Access journal by Dove Medical Press focuses on prevention and treatment of diseases in people over 65 years of age. Sign up for email alerts here.

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      Drug Burden Index in older adults: theoretical and practical issues


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          Anticholinergic and sedative medications are commonly used in older adults and are associated with adverse clinical outcomes. The Drug Burden Index was developed to measure the cumulative exposure to these medications in older adults and its impact on physical and cognitive function. This narrative review discusses the research and clinical applications of the Drug Burden Index, and its advantages and limitations, compared with other pharmacologically developed measures of high-risk prescribing.

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          Effects of computerized clinical decision support systems on practitioner performance and patient outcomes: a systematic review.

          Developers of health care software have attributed improvements in patient care to these applications. As with any health care intervention, such claims require confirmation in clinical trials. To review controlled trials assessing the effects of computerized clinical decision support systems (CDSSs) and to identify study characteristics predicting benefit. We updated our earlier reviews by searching the MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, Inspec, and ISI databases and consulting reference lists through September 2004. Authors of 64 primary studies confirmed data or provided additional information. We included randomized and nonrandomized controlled trials that evaluated the effect of a CDSS compared with care provided without a CDSS on practitioner performance or patient outcomes. Teams of 2 reviewers independently abstracted data on methods, setting, CDSS and patient characteristics, and outcomes. One hundred studies met our inclusion criteria. The number and methodologic quality of studies improved over time. The CDSS improved practitioner performance in 62 (64%) of the 97 studies assessing this outcome, including 4 (40%) of 10 diagnostic systems, 16 (76%) of 21 reminder systems, 23 (62%) of 37 disease management systems, and 19 (66%) of 29 drug-dosing or prescribing systems. Fifty-two trials assessed 1 or more patient outcomes, of which 7 trials (13%) reported improvements. Improved practitioner performance was associated with CDSSs that automatically prompted users compared with requiring users to activate the system (success in 73% of trials vs 47%; P = .02) and studies in which the authors also developed the CDSS software compared with studies in which the authors were not the developers (74% success vs 28%; respectively, P = .001). Many CDSSs improve practitioner performance. To date, the effects on patient outcomes remain understudied and, when studied, inconsistent.
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            Sedative hypnotics in older people with insomnia: meta-analysis of risks and benefits.

            To quantify and compare potential benefits (subjective reports of sleep variables) and risks (adverse events and morning-after psychomotor impairment) of short term treatment with sedative hypnotics in older people with insomnia. Medline, Embase, the Cochrane clinical trials database, PubMed, and PsychLit, 1966 to 2003; bibliographies of published reviews and meta-analyses; manufacturers of newer sedative hypnotics (zaleplon, zolpidem, zopiclone) regarding unpublished studies. Randomised controlled trials of any pharmacological treatment for insomnia for at least five consecutive nights in people aged 60 or over with insomnia and otherwise free of psychiatric or psychological disorders. 24 studies (involving 2417 participants) with extractable data met inclusion and exclusion criteria. Sleep quality improved (effect size 0.14, P 0.05), and reports of daytime fatigue were 3.82 times more common (1.88 to 7.80, P < 0.001) in people using any sedative compared with placebo. Improvements in sleep with sedative use are statistically significant, but the magnitude of effect is small. The increased risk of adverse events is statistically significant and potentially clinically relevant in older people at risk of falls and cognitive impairment. In people over 60, the benefits of these drugs may not justify the increased risk, particularly if the patient has additional risk factors for cognitive or psychomotor adverse events.
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              The anticholinergic risk scale and anticholinergic adverse effects in older persons.

              Adverse effects of anticholinergic medications may contribute to events such as falls, delirium, and cognitive impairment in older patients. To further assess this risk, we developed the Anticholinergic Risk Scale (ARS), a ranked categorical list of commonly prescribed medications with anticholinergic potential. The objective of this study was to determine if the ARS score could be used to predict the risk of anticholinergic adverse effects in a geriatric evaluation and management (GEM) cohort and in a primary care cohort. Medical records of 132 GEM patients were reviewed retrospectively for medications included on the ARS and their resultant possible anticholinergic adverse effects. Prospectively, we enrolled 117 patients, 65 years or older, in primary care clinics; performed medication reconciliation; and asked about anticholinergic adverse effects. The relationship between the ARS score and the risk of anticholinergic adverse effects was assessed using Poisson regression analysis. Higher ARS scores were associated with increased risk of anticholinergic adverse effects in the GEM cohort (crude relative risk [RR], 1.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.3-1.8) and in the primary care cohort (crude RR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.5-2.4). After adjustment for age and the number of medications, higher ARS scores increased the risk of anticholinergic adverse effects in the GEM cohort (adjusted RR, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.1-1.6; c statistic, 0.74) and in the primary care cohort (adjusted RR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.5-2.5; c statistic, 0.77). Higher ARS scores are associated with statistically significantly increased risk of anticholinergic adverse effects in older patients.

                Author and article information

                Clin Interv Aging
                Clin Interv Aging
                Clinical Interventions in Aging
                Clinical Interventions in Aging
                Dove Medical Press
                09 September 2014
                : 9
                : 1503-1515
                [1 ]Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Kolling Institute of Medical Research and Departments of Clinical Pharmacology and Aged Care, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW, Australia
                [2 ]Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
                [3 ]Department of Clinical Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Flinders University and Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park, SA, Australia
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Lisa Kouladjian, Clinical Pharmacology and Aged Care, Level 12 Kolling Building, Royal North Shore Hospital, Reserve Road, St Leonards, NSW, Australia, 2065 Tel +61 2 9926 4934, Fax +61 2 9926 4053, Email lisa.kouladjian@ 123456sydney.edu.au
                © 2014 Kouladjian et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.


                Health & Social care
                drug burden index,anticholinergics,sedative medications,high-risk prescribing,older adults,pharmacological risk assessment tools,deprescribing


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