Barriers and facilitators to reducing anticholinergic burden: a qualitative systematic review

Carrie Stewart, Katie Gallacher, Athagran Nakham, Moira Cruickshank, Rumana Newlands, Christine Bond, Phyo Kyaw Myint, Debi Bhattacharya, Frances S. Mair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Despite common use, anticholinergic medications have been associated with serious health risks. Interventions to reduce their use are being developed and there is a need to understand their implementation into clinical care. Aim of review: This systematic review aims to identify and analyse qualitative research studies exploring the barriers and facilitators to reducing anticholinergic burden. Methods: Medline (OVID), EMBASE (OVID), CINAHL (EMBSCO) and PsycINFO (OVID) were searched using comprehensive search terms. Peer reviewed studies published in English presenting qualitative research in relation to the barriers and facilitators of deprescribing anticholinergic medications, involving patients, carers or health professionals were eligible. Normalization Process Theory was used to explore and explain the data. Results: Of 1764 identified studies, two were eligible and both involved healthcare professionals (23 general practitioners, 13 specialist clinicians and 12 pharmacists). No studies were identified that involved patients or carers. Barriers to collaborative working often resulted in poor motivation to reduce anticholinergic use. Low confidence, system resources and organisation of care also hindered anticholinergic burden reduction. Good communication and relationships with patients, carers and other healthcare professionals were reported as important for successful anticholinergic burden reduction. Having a named person for prescribing decisions, and clear role boundaries, were also important facilitators. ConclusionsThis review identified important barriers and facilitators to anticholinergic burden reduction from healthcare provider perspectives which can inform implementation of such deprescribing interventions. Studies exploring patient and carer perspectives are presently absent but are required to ensure person-centeredness and feasibility of future interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1451–1460
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
Issue number6
Early online date25 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Anticholinergics
  • Deprescribing
  • Intervention implementation
  • Qualitative research
  • Systematic review

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