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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Iowa: Study to Focus on Preventing Falls Through Elimination of High-Risk Medications

Researchers from the University of Iowa Colleges of Pharmacy and Public Health have received a $3 million grant from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a four-year study examining falls of elderly people. The goal of the study is to see if the elimination of high-risk medications will reduce falls among the elderly.

“Falls are a leading cause of unintentional injury among older adults,” said College of Pharmacy assistant professor, Dr. Korey Kennelty, a co-principal investigator for the study. “Certain medications, including many that affect the central nervous system, increase the risk of an older adult experiencing a fall. We know these high-risk medications should be discontinued in our older patients, but how to do it is unclear. Our study will address that.”

Dr. Carri Casteel, associate professor in the University of Iowa College of Public Health, is a co-principal investigator with Dr. Kennelty.

The team is setting up a pilot study that will focus on 50 older adult patients (65 years and older) from two rural medical clinics in Iowa. The purpose of the pilot is to test study workflows and processes, including the effectiveness of documents that will be used to educate and inform medical professionals and study patients. The pilot study is scheduled to kick off in the fall.

Medications of particular interest are those that research has shown place older adults at more risk for falls, said Dr. Kennelty. These medications include opioids, benzodiazepines, and anticholinergics (e.g., antihistamines). Some elderly people take doses of these medications that are too high, she said, and a majority of them don’t even need to take the medications at all and should be weaned off of them as soon as possible.

A second prong of the study will track automobile accidents of study participants.

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