Drug burden index and its association with hip fracture among older adults: a national population-based study

Hamish A Jamieson, Prasad S Nishtala, Richard Scrase, Joanne M Deely, Rebecca Abey-Nesbit, Sarah N Hilmer, Darrell R Abernethy, Sarah D Berry, Vincent Mor, Cameron J Lacey, Philip J Schluter

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Background: The Drug Burden Index (DBI) calculates the total sedative and anticholinergic load of prescribed medications and is associated with functional decline and hip fractures in older adults. However, it is unknown if confounding factors influence the relationship between the DBI and hip fractures. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association between the DBI and hip fractures, after correcting for mortality and multiple potential confounding factors. Methods: A competing-risks regression analysis conducted on a prospectively recruited New Zealand community-dwelling older population who had a standardized (International Resident Assessment Instrument) assessment between September 1, 2012, and October 31, 2015, the study's end date. Outcome measures were survival status and hip fracture, with time-varying DBI exposure derived from 90-day time intervals. The multivariable competing-risks regression model was adjusted for a large number of medical comorbidities and activities of daily living. Results: Among 70,553 adults assessed, 2,249 (3.2%) experienced at least one hip fracture, 20,194 (28.6%) died without experiencing a fracture, and 48,110 (68.2%) survived without a fracture. The mean follow-up time was 14.9 months (range: 1 day, 37.9 months). The overall DBI distribution was highly skewed, with median time-varying DBI exposure ranging from 0.93 (Q 1 = 0.0, Q 3 = 1.84) to 0.96 (Q 1 = 0.0, Q 3 = 1.90). DBI was significantly related to fracture incidence in unadjusted (p <.001) and adjusted (p <.001) analyses. The estimated subhazard ratio was 1.52 (95% confidence interval: 1.28-1.81) for those with DBI > 3 compared with those with DBI = 0 in the adjusted analysis. Conclusions: In this study, increasing DBI was associated with a higher likelihood of fractures after accounting for the competing risk of mortality and adjusting for confounders. The results of this unique study are important in validating the DBI as a guide for medication management and it could help reduce the risk of hip fractures in older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1127-1133
Number of pages7
JournalJ Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci
Issue number7
Early online date31 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected].


  • Falls
  • Medications
  • Polypharmacy
  • RAI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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