Drug burden index to define the burden of medicines in older adults with intellectual disabilities: An observational cross-sectional study

Juliette O'Connell, Éilish Burke, Niamh Mulryan, Claire O'Dwyer, Clare Donegan, Philip McCallion, Mary McCarron, Martin C. Henman, Máire O'Dwyer
  • British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, January 2018, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1111/bcp.13479

Measurement of the use of high risk drugs in older people with intellectual disabilities.

What is it about?

This work measured the use of sedatives and drugs with anticholinergic effects in older people with intellectual activities to estimate to what extent this vulnerable group are exposed. The measurement tool has been used in older people without intellectual disability but this is the first time it has been used in this population. Use was common and the burden - the potential for problems - was higher in this group than in people without intellectual disability.

Why is it important?

Sedative drugs and drugs with anticholinergic effects create a potential risk to vulnerable people. Their use is associated with impaired thinking, falls, daytime dozing and unplanned hospital admission. Management of the risks can only occur if thorough medication reviews are regularly carried out by suitable teams that include a pharmacist.


Dr martin c henman (Author)
University of Dublin Trinity College

People with intellectual disability are exposed to a greater burden from these high risk drugs than other people and they are exposed to anticholinergic effects much more than others. This has not been shown before and because of the potential risk, needs to be investigated in more depth in this population and by other researchers in other countries.

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The following have contributed to this page: Eilish A Burke and Dr martin c henman