Drug Burden Index in older adults: theoretical and practical issues

Clin Interv Aging. 2014 Sep 9;9:1503-15. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S66660. eCollection 2014.


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.

Keywords: Drug Burden Index; anticholinergics; deprescribing; high-risk prescribing; older adults; pharmacological risk assessment tools; sedative medications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cholinergic Antagonists / adverse effects*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / adverse effects*
  • Inappropriate Prescribing
  • Movement / drug effects*
  • Polypharmacy


  • Cholinergic Antagonists
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives