Donovan Maust, M.D., M.S., awarded funding from Donaghue Foundation to study unintended consequences of antipsychotic medications in nursing homes

Donovan Maust, M.D., MS, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry within the University of Michigan Medical School and Research Scientist with the Center for Clinical Management Research of the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, just received “Another Look” funding from The Donaghue Foundation to examine psychotropic use among patients with dementia in long-term care settings. Dr. Maust’s study is titled “Unintended Effects of Antipsychotic Reduction in Nursing Homes.”maustd-125x175

While evidence suggests that the rate of antipsychotic use for the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia in long-term care has decreased, anecdotal evidence suggests that prescribers may have simply shifted to alternative but unmeasured agents such as valproic acid or benzodiazepines to help control the behaviors. Unfortunately, these antipsychotic alternatives have their own associated harms and even less evidence of benefit for the problematic behaviors. So, while antipsychotic use has dropped, the replacements may be even worse.

Along with co-Investigator Dr. Helen C. Kales, Dr. Maust will use Medicare data from 2008-2013 to examine whether the recent reduction in antipsychotic use among long-term care residents has been accompanied by increased use of alternative psychotropic medications. This information is critically important for policymakers so they can learn whether the strong emphasis on reducing antipsychotic use, when implemented in the absence of an equally strong strategy to improve non-pharmacological behavioral management, simply caused a shift in prescribing to even worse agents.

Now in its fourth year, the Another Look – Better Health for Elders in Care Facilities program was established to provide funding for research projects that can improve the quality of care for the elderly population in nursing homes or other care facilities. Researchers must use data that already exists for their study. In addition, researchers applying for this grant must identify a stakeholder in the care delivery or policy arena with whom they will either consult or collaborate and who is willing to work with the researcher to develop a research product that may be readily used to improve care. Stakeholder organizations for their work are the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Michigan Great Lakes Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Tentative funding dates are November 2016 through October 2018.

For more information on Dr. Maust’s work click here.