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A novel approach to the development of an antimuscarinic potency tool and measuring anticholinergic burden in older people

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, February 24, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This is a collaborative project, which will involve working with Dr Hamish Jamieson from the Big Data and Ageing Research Group at Christchurch. This research project provides an opportunity to combine big data analytics and advance translational research in ageing.

Anticholinergic load or burden is when there is more than one anticholinergic drug or drug with anticholinergic properties are co-administered. Numerous studies have reported that anticholinergic burden is a strong predictor of cognitive impairment and physical impairment and increased mortality in older people.

We propose to develop a novel antimuscarinic tool based on efficacy data derived from randomized clinical trials (RCTs). Clinicians can use this evidence-based tool to guide prescribing in older people. We will validate this tool in older people with complex care needs prescribed antimuscarinic medicines living in the community. We have access to interRAI data. The interRAI is a unique, internationally recognised and validated assessment tool for health and disability needs, used for all older people requiring health services in New Zealand. The interRAI assessments used for this study provides a comprehensive overview of the person’s physical, psychological, behavioural and social status.


The association between higher anticholinergic load and cognitive and functional decline in older people is well established. We propose to develop an evidence base tool to predict antimuscarinic potency would aid rational prescribing, thereby improving patient safety and outcomes. We propose to develop an "Antimuscarinic tool" that can be used to compare the potency of antimuscarinic medicines as well to calculate the total anticholinergic load of the patient’s entire medication profile. This would provide a useful clinical tool to guide prescribing in older people.


Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or high Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (or the equivalent qualification gained outside the UK) in a relevant subject. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

The candidate will network with a group of excellent researchers based at University of Otago and The University of Sydney. We have approval to use the world-class interRAI data provided by the Big Data and Ageing Research Group at Christchurch and interRAI New Zealand.


Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Prasad Nishtala,

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form – link

Please ensure that you quote the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section. Should you wish to apply for more than one advertised project, you should submit a separate personal statement for each one.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Anticipated start date: 30 September 2019.

Funding Notes

Candidates may be considered for a University Research Studentship which will cover UK/EU tuition fees, a training support fee of £1,000 per annum and a tax-free maintenance allowance at the UKRI Doctoral Stipend rate (£14,777 in 2018-19) for a period of up to 3.5 years.


1. Salahudeen MS, Nishtala PS. Examination and estimation of anticholinergic burden: Current Trends and Implications for Future Research. Drugs Aging. Accepted 2016.

2. Salahudeen MS, Hilmer SN, Nishtala PS. Comparison of anticholinergic risk scales and associations with adverse health outcomes in older people. Journal of American Geriatric Society, 2015; 63:85-90. [IF: 4.572]

3. Nishtala PS, Salahudeen MS, Hilmer SN. Anticholinergics: Theoretical and Clinical Overview, Expert Opinion in Drug Safety, 2016; 30:1-16.

4. Nishtala PS, Fois RA, McLachlan AJ, Bell JS, Kelly PJ, Chen TF. Anticholinergic activity of commonly prescribed medications and neuropsychiatric adverse events in older people. J. Clin. Pharmacol. 2009; 49; 1176-84.

5. Salahudeen MS, Duffull SB, Nishtala PS. Anticholinergic burden quantified by anticholinergic risk scales and adverse outcomes in older people: a systematic review. BMC Geriatrics, 2015; 15:31 [IF: 1.680]

How good is research at University of Bath in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 54.20

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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