Optimizing medication appropriateness in older adults: a randomized clinical interventional trial to decrease anticholinergic burden

Daniela C. Moga, Erin L. Abner, Dorinda N. Rigsby, Lynne Eckmann, Mark Huffmyer, Richard R. Murphy, Beth B. Coy, Gregory A. Jicha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: The complexity of medication therapy in older adults with multiple comorbidities often leads to inappropriate prescribing. Drugs with anticholinergic properties are of particular interest because many are not recognized for this property; their use may lead to increased anticholinergic burden resulting in significant health risks, as well as negatively impacting cognition. Medication therapy management (MTM) interventions showed promise in addressing inappropriate medication use, but the effectiveness of targeted multidisciplinary team interventions addressing anticholinergic medications in older populations is yet to be determined. Methods: We conducted an 8-week, parallel-arm, randomized trial to evaluate whether a targeted patient-centered pharmacist-physician team MTM intervention (“targeted MTM intervention”) reduced the use of inappropriate anticholinergic medications in older patients enrolled in a longitudinal cohort at University of Kentucky’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Study outcomes included changes in the medication appropriateness index (MAI) targeting anticholinergic medications and in the anticholinergic drug scale (ADS) score from baseline to the end of study. Results: Between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015 we enrolled and randomized 50 participants taking at least one medication with anticholinergic properties. Of these, 35 (70%) were women, 45 (90%) were white, and 33 (66%) were cognitively intact (clinical dementia rating [CDR] = 0); mean age was 77.7 ± 6.6 years. At baseline, the mean MAI was 12.6 ± 6.3; 25 (50%) of the participants used two or more anticholinergics, and the mean ADS score was 2.8 ± 1.6. After randomization, although no statistically significant difference was noted between groups, we identified a potentially meaningful imbalance as the intervention group had more participants with intact cognition, and thus included CDR in all of the analyses. The targeted MTM intervention resulted in statistically significant CDR adjusted differences between groups with regard to improved MAI (change score of 3.6 (1.1) for the MTM group as compared with 1.0 (0.9) for the control group, p = 0.04) and ADS (change score of 1.0 (0.3) for the MTM group as compared with 0.2 (0.3) for the control group, p = 0.03). Conclusions: Our targeted MTM intervention resulted in improvement in anticholinergic medication appropriateness and reduced the use of inappropriate anticholinergic medications in older patients. Our results show promise in an area of great importance to ensure optimum outcomes for medications used in older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number36
JournalAlzheimer's Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 23 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a pilot study award from the University of Kentucky Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (UL1TR000117). Additional support was provided by the University of Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Center (P30 AG028383). DCM was supported by grant number K12 DA035150 (Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health) from the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Women’s Health Research, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).


  • Alzheimer’s Disease Center
  • Anticholinergic medication
  • Medication therapy management intervention
  • Older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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