Methods for assessing drug-related anticholinergic activity

Kelly M. Rudd, Cynthia L. Raehl, C. A. Bond, Thomas J. Abbruscato, Andrew C. Stenhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The geriatric population is a large consumer of both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Positive outcomes from drugs depend on the delicate interplay between therapeutic and adverse effects. This relationship becomes tortuous with simultaneous administration of several drugs. Numerous concomitant drug therapies may be essential for providing quality patient care but may also increase the possibility of an adverse drug event. Increasing sensitivity to drug effects in the geriatric population also creates concern over adverse effects. Drugs that possess anticholinergic properties are especially worrisome, as these properties may manifest as hazardous physiologic and psychological adverse drug events. Consequently, clinicians strive to minimize total drug exposure to agents possessing anticholinergic properties in elderly patients. A review of the literature revealed four methods that might help clinicians systematically reduce or eliminate potentially offending anticholinergic drugs. Each of the four has merits and limitations, with no ideal evidence-based approach used. Three of the four methods described have research utility; however, only one of the methods is clinically useful.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1592-1601
Number of pages10
Issue number11 I
StatePublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Adverse drug events
  • Anticholinergic activity
  • Anticholinergic drugs
  • Geriatric patients
  • Geriatric pharmacotherapy


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