Drug burden index and hospitalization among community-dwelling older people

Eija Lönnroos, Danijela Gnjidic, Sarah N Hilmer, J Simon Bell, Hannu Kautiainen, Raimo Sulkava, Sirpa Hartikainen

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Medications with anticholinergic and sedative effects carry significant risks in older people. Adverse events arising from the use of these medications may also lead to hospitalization and contribute to length of stay. The Drug Burden Index (DBI) is a tool that measures a person's total exposure to medications with anticholinergic and sedative properties, using the principles of dose response and maximal effect. Cumulative anticholinergic and sedative drug burden measured using the DBI has been associated with clinically important outcomes in older people. The association between the DBI and hospitalization still remains relatively unknown. 

Objective: The main aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between DBI and hospitalization in a population-based sample of community dwelling older Finns over a 1-year period. 

Methods: The health status and medication use of 339 community-dwelling ≥75-year-old Finns were assessed in 2004. Data on hospitalizations over the following year were obtained from the national discharge register. Two different measures were used to assess hospitalizations in the study sample: (i) the proportion of hospitalized participants; and (ii) the number of hospital days per person-year. Estimates for the number of hospital days per person year and rate ratios (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using Poisson or negative binomial regression analysis. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-404
Number of pages10
JournalDrugs & Aging
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Adverse-drug-reactions
  • Cholinergic-receptor-antagonists
  • Elderly
  • Hospitalisation
  • Hypnosedatives

Cite this

Lönnroos, E., Gnjidic, D., Hilmer, S. N., Bell, J. S., Kautiainen, H., Sulkava, R., & Hartikainen, S. (2012). Drug burden index and hospitalization among community-dwelling older people. Drugs & Aging, 29(5), 395-404. https://doi.org/10.2165/11631420-000000000-00000