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.


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.


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).


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.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02172612. Registered 20 June 2014.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Alzheimer's Research & Therapy, v. 9, 36, p. 1-10.

© The Author(s). 2017

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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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.

Related Content

The data collected and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

13195_2017_263_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (195 kB)
Additional file 1: End-of-study questionnaire.