Research in Dementia

The network supports a variety of scholarship on deprescribing that is focused on the unique needs of people with cognitive impairment or dementia. This includes funding pilot and exploratory studies on this topic, and opportunities for funding grant planning and collaboration activities. Visit our funded investigators page to learn more. The network also supports the development of junior investigators through our 12-month Junior Investigator Intensive program, with a number of JII scholars conducting work related to deprescribing and dementia. Visit our Investigator Development page to learn more.

The network has also received supplemental funding from the National Institute on Aging to conduct dedicated research on Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias. The following projects have been supported by this funding mechanism and provide additional opportunities to advance research on deprescribing for people with these conditions.

2021 – 2022

PRINCIPAL Investigator:

Daniela Moga, MD, PhD (contact PI), University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy

Gregory Jicha, MD, PhD (MPI), University of Kentucky College of Medicine

ADRD Supplement:

Assessment of Medication Optimization in Rural Kentucky Appalachian Patients With Mild Cognitive Impairment or Dementia: The AMOR-Kentucky Study

Background and Importance: Medication-related problems are often the cause of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and transition to higher levels of care in older adults experiencing Alzheimer’s Disease or Related Dementias (ADRD) and related cognitive impairments. Medication complexity adds to the caregiver burden and often results in negative health outcomes and diminished quality of life for both the patient with cognitive impairment or dementia and the caregiver. These pose challenges in the best of circumstances, and even more so in the underserved, lower socioeconomic populations in rural Appalachian Kentucky. Outreach into such areas to improve healthcare has been further impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Developing novel, remotely delivered, deprescribing and medication optimization strategies to such populations is an important need and a primary goal of our efforts.

Study Aims:
Aim 1:  To assess feasibility and acceptability of a novel deprescribing intervention to optimize medication regimens using a telemedicine-based approach in rural/underserved Kentucky Appalachian populations with ADRD and related cognitive impairments.

Aim 2:  To obtain preliminary data about the impact of a novel deprescribing intervention on medication appropriateness and number of potentially inappropriate medications (primary outcomes), as well as to explore the impact on cognitive outcomes and effects on caregiver burden/efficacy to be evaluated in future larger intervention studies.

Study Design: We will assess the potential use of telemedicine by performing an initial unblinded, single arm study of a medication therapy management describing intervention in rural/underserved Kentucky Appalachian populations with ADRD and related cognitive impairments using potentially inappropriate medications (n=50). Following initial recruitment and clinical evaluation, participants will have their medication list reviewed by a pharmacist-clinician team to identify targets for deprescribing intervention. After enrollment, the intervention will be delivered by the study team via telemedicine to the participant and their caregiver and then reevaluated at 4 weeks and 3-months during follow-up. Outcome measures will be evaluated 6 months after enrollment and include change in number of medications and medication appropriateness with the intervention, participant and caregiver satisfaction, and evaluation of connectivity issues, along with cognitive outcomes and effects on caregiver burden/efficacy.

PRINCIPAL Investigator:

Ariel Green, MD, MPH, PhD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

SITE PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR AT KAISER PERMANENTE COLORADO:

Rebecca Boxer, MD, MS

ADRD Supplement:

Identifying Caregivers to Support Care and Research for Patients with Memory Disorders

Background and Importance: Few deprescribing interventions have specifically identified or engaged family and unpaid caregivers of people living with dementia (PLWD). Purposeful engagement of caregivers is critically important for implementing deprescribing for PLWD but current research is lacking. Ability to pragmatically identify dementia caregivers is a methodologic limitation for pragmatic trials.

Study Aims: Systematically identifying caregivers with responsibility for managing medications would facilitate pragmatic trial recruitment, enable tailored delivery of deprescribing interventions to caregivers and collection of caregiver-reported outcome measures through the electronic medical record. To accomplish this objective, we propose the following specific aims:

  1. To iteratively refine a tool for identifying caregivers of PLWD for future embedded pragmatic deprescribing trials through a user-centered design process involving in-depth interviews with key stakeholders (n=15-20 patient-caregiver dyads and 10-15 direct care staff, clinicians and health system leaders).
  2. To test the resultant tool with 25 patient-caregiver dyads at two healthcare systems (50 dyads in total) to establish proof of concept, feasibility and acceptability of the process.

Study Design: Aim 1 will be a qualitative study based on in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Question guides will elicit stakeholders’ perspectives on how best to identify, engage and support family or unpaid caregivers of PLWD and build their information into the EMR. Findings from Aim 1 will be synthesized and used to inform the development of a simple, scalable tool for identifying caregivers of PLWD. We will initially develop a paper version of the tool, which will allow us to explore ideas, gather feedback from users, and make changes before investing time and money into development of an EMR field. Aim 2 will be a single-arm pilot study lasting 12 weeks. Pilot outcomes will consist of feasibility and acceptability of the tool. The product of Aim 2 will be a tool for identifying caregivers of PLWD that has demonstrated proof of concept and will be applicable to future pragmatic deprescribing trials and, more broadly, to other pragmatic clinical trials of strategies to improve the care of PLWD and their caregivers.

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