Michael M. McKee, MD, MPH, associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine, and Steve Erickson, PharmD, associate professor in the College of Pharmacy have secured a one-year, $50,000 grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation to study ways to reduce medication-related problems among adult patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
Polypharmacy, or the simultaneous use of multiple medications to treat one condition or ailment in an individual, is a significant problem for adults with IDD. Patients with IDD face an elevated risk of adverse medication and health outcomes due to being prescribed many medications, medication interactions, and adherence challenges.
Research shows that patients with IDD are more likely than the general population to experience hospitalizations for an adverse medication reaction, have worse overall health, are less monitored by clinicians, and have lower adherence to treatments. Additional research also shows that these differences in health outcomes are magnified by patients with IDD from minority communities.
Despite these observable differences in care, few clinical models or guidelines currently exist to guide providers on how to care for patients with IDD taking multiple medications, especially those from underrepresented minority communities.
“Despite significant inequities and unmet needs, few clinical models or guidelines currently exist for the care of this population,” said McKee. “Addressing these intersectionality factors, along with system-wide barriers, will be critical to reduce health inequities for those with IDD,”
The newly funded study will assess whether pharmacist-led comprehensive medication reviews in primary care settings improve health outcomes for adults with disabilities. The project will focus its analysis on the health outcomes of adult patients with IDD, who live in community settings and who take five or more prescribed medications.
The researchers will also conduct a root cause analysis to determine drivers of medication-related health problems among these patients to improve medication management policies and procedures.
“Through our project, we hope to equip providers with the information that they need to better care for their patients with unmet needs,” Erickson said. “We feel its important to introduce the expertise of pharmacists into treatment processes so that we can help patients with IDD manage their medications and to ultimately reduce care inequities in this patient population.”