International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 1152–1158 | Cite as

Anticholinergic and sedative medications exposure in older patients: a cross-sectional study

  • Xiaolin Zhang
  • Shuang Zhou
  • Xinran Li
  • Weiwei Zhou
  • Ying Zhou
  • Yimin Cui
  • Xinmin LiuEmail author
Research Article


Background The Drug Burden Index is a risk assessment tool used to quantify anticholinergic and sedative medications burden of older patients. There have been no previously published reports the exposure of anticholinergic and sedative medications in China. Objective We investigated the prevalence and correlates risk factors of anticholinergic and sedative medications in hospitalized older patients with polypharmacy in China. Settings The Department of Geriatrics in a tertiary care teaching hospital. Methods A retrospective analysis of patient medical records of hospitalized older patients with polypharmacy was undertaken at a large university teaching hospital in China. Polypharmacy was defined as the regular use of more than five medications. Prescribing of anticholinergic and sedative medications was identified using the medication list of the Drug Burden Index, and logistic regression analysis determined associations between drug exposure and independent variables. Main outcome measure Anticholinergic and sedative medications identified by the Drug Burden Index. Results A total of 383 patients were included in this study, with an average age of 82.6 ± 7.0 years and included 72.9% (279/383) male patients. Of the study participants, 23.8% (91/383) were prescribed anticholinergic and sedative medications. Of the 106 medicines identified by the Drug Burden Index, the most frequently prescribed medications were estazolam in 51.9% (55/106), terazosin in 14.1% (15/106), loratadine in 10.4% (11/106), and cetirizine in 5.7% (6/106); these four medications accounted for 82.1% of the anticholinergic and sedative medications. Drug exposure was associated with age ≥ 80 years (OR 2.246; 95% CI 1.100–4.586), the number of prescribed medications (OR 1.102; 95% CI 1.018–1.193), and symptoms of insomnia (OR 28.990; 95% CI 14.197–59.200). Conclusions The findings of this study showed that the prevalence of anticholinergic and sedative exposure in hospitalized older patients with polypharmacy in China. The prevalence of exposure of anticholinergic and sedative medications was 23.8%. According to the Drug Burden Index estazolam and terazosin were the most common medications in the sedative or anticholinergic drug class, respectively.


Anticholinergic effects China Drug Burden Index Polypharmacy Sedatives 



We thank the staff members of department of geriatrics and pharmacy in Peking University First Hospital for their assistance with the administration of this study.


Financial support for this work was received from the Scientific Research Seed Fund of Peking University First Hospital (2018SF058).

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaolin Zhang
    • 1
  • Shuang Zhou
    • 2
  • Xinran Li
    • 2
  • Weiwei Zhou
    • 1
  • Ying Zhou
    • 2
  • Yimin Cui
    • 2
  • Xinmin Liu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of GeriatricsPeking University First HospitalBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of PharmacyPeking University First HospitalBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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