Potential benefits of reducing medication-related anticholinergic burden for demented older adults: A prospective cohort study

Yen Chi Yeh, Chien Liang Liu, Li Ning Peng, Ming Hsien Lin, Liang Kung Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Aim: Medication-related anticholinergic burden is a quality indicator for geriatric pharmacotherapy; however, little is known regarding the benefits of reducing anticholinergic burden for demented patients Methods: Demented residents in a Veteran Home were enrolled for this study and an educational program was held for primary care physicians providing services at the Veterans Home. Residents were assigned to the intervention group if the primary care team could adhere to the research protocol and the remaining residents were assigned to the reference group receiving conventional care. Anticholinergic burden was estimated by Clinician-Rated Anticholinergic Score (CR-ACHS). Healthcare outcomes; for example, hospitalizations, mortality, cognitive and physical function, were compared between groups. Results: Overall, 53 of the 67 demented residents (mean age 83.4±4.4 years) completed this study. Anticholinergic exposure was found in 38 participants (56.7%) at baseline, in which antipsychotics (n=29, 76.3%) and antidepressants (n=19, 50%) were the most common agents. Compared with participants in the reference group, CR-ACHS was significantly reduced in the intervention group at 12-week follow up (intervention group vs reference group=0.5±1.1 vs 1.1±1.3, P=0.021), whereas the mean Mini-Mental State Examination and Barthel Index were similar between groups. In contrast, no clinical complication was observed regarding medication adjustments during the study period. Conclusions: Anticholinergic burden can be successfully and safely reduced through an educational program for primary care physicians, but the benefit of reducing anticholinergic burden remained unclear within the first 12 weeks. Further investigation is required to evaluate the long-term benefits of reducing anticholinergic burden for demented older adults. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2013; 13: 694-700.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)694-700
Number of pages7
JournalGeriatrics and Gerontology International
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Anticholinergic effect
  • Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia
  • Cognitive function
  • Dementia
  • Physical function


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