Anti-cholinergic load, health care utilization, and survival in people with advanced cancer: a pilot study.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats


Citation Stats


INTRODUCTION: Anti-cholinergic medications have been associated with increased risks of cognitive impairment, premature mortality and increased risk of hospitalisation. Anti-cholinergic load associated with medication increases as death approaches in those with advanced cancer, yet little is known about associated adverse outcomes in this setting. METHODS: A substudy of 112 participants in a randomised control trial who had cancer and an Australia modified Karnofsky Performance Scale (AKPS) score (AKPS) of 60 or above, explored survival and health service utilisation; with anti-cholinergic load calculated using the Clinician Rated Anti-cholinergic Scale (modified version) longitudinally to death. A standardised starting point for prospectively calculating survival was an AKPS of 60 or above. RESULTS: Baseline entry to the sub-study was a mean 62 +/- 81 days (median 37, range 1-588) days before death (survival), with mean of 4.8 (median 3, SD 4.18, range 1 - 24) study assessments in this time period. Participants spent 22% of time as an inpatient. There was no significant association between anti-cholinergic score and time spent as an inpatient (adjusted for survival time) (p = 0.94); or survival time. DISCUSSION: No association between anti-cholinergic load and survival or time spent as an inpatient was seen. Future studies need to include cognitively impaired populations where the risks of symptomatic deterioration may be more substantial.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Agar, Meera, Timothy To, John Plummer, Amy Abernethy and David Currow (2010). Anti-cholinergic load, health care utilization, and survival in people with advanced cancer: a pilot study. J Palliat Med, 13(6). pp. 745–752. 10.1089/jpm.2009.0365 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.