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Keywords:

  • adverse outcomes;
  • hypnotics and sedatives;
  • older men;
  • pharmacoepidemiology;
  • sedative load

Abstract

The aim of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the association between sedative load and functional outcomes in community-dwelling older Australian men. A total of 1696 males aged ≥ 70 years, enrolled in the Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project, were studied. Participants underwent assessments during 2005–2007. Sedative load was computed using a published model. Outcomes included activities of daily living (ADL), instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), physical performance measures and a clinical diagnosis of cognitive impairment. Of the participants, 15.3% took medications with sedative properties. After adjusting for age, education, depressive symptoms and comorbidities, participants who took one medication with sedation as a prominent side effect (sedative load = 1) had odds ratio (OR) of 2.15 (95% confidence interval, CI: 1.20–3.85) for ADL disability, compared with participants with sedative load = 0. Participants who took at least one primary sedative or two medications with sedation as a prominent side effect (sedative load ≥ 2) had an OR of 1.55 (95% CI: 1.02–2.35) for IADL disability, compared with participants with sedative load = 0. The mean 6-m walking speed (= 0.001) and grip strength (= 0.003) were significantly different between sedative load groups in unadjusted models only. No association between sedative load and poorer performance on balance and chair stands tests or cognitive impairment was observed. Participants with sedative load of one were more likely to report ADL disability, whereas participants with sedative load of ≥2 were more likely to report IADL disability. Higher sedative load was not associated with poorer physical performance or cognitive impairment in older Australian men.