The newest researcher in The CHOICE Institute at UWSOP, Doug Barthold is taking a couple of approaches that use data and economic modeling to find potential treatments and trends in care of people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD).
At press time, there are no known drugs that can prevent or delay the onset or progression of Alzheimer’s, so some researchers, including several at UWSOP, are examining the repurposing of existing drugs to help mitigate or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Doug is looking at data on patient prescription drug use to find patterns that may suggest which drugs are protective and which may lead to dementia. “It’s important to know how drugs affect ADRD risk, both positively and negatively. Sometimes, we find protective drugs,” said Doug.
“Overall, it’s vital to understand long term effects of different drug molecules for people of different race, ethnicity, and sex. Using econometric tools and methods in large and diverse samples of data can offer clinical implications for care that can improve patient outcomes.” —Doug Barthold, Research Assistant Professor of Pharmacy and Plein Center Researcher
Similar to Zach Marcum, Doug has been researching anti-hypertensives, using Medicare claims and the Adult Changes in Thought study (ACT), which is currently administered in the Kaiser Permanente Washington health care system. The ACT data goes back to the 1970s and is useful for identifying mid-life risk factors for late life dementia.
In using the Medicare claims data, Doug partnered with a neuroscientist to examine AD risk for users of the four most popular statin molecules, by sex, race, and ethnicity. For example, he found decreased AD risk in African-American women who used simvastatin.
In addition to studying drug repurposing options, Doug’s research looks at patterns of care after dementia diagnoses, and what might affect the disease’s progression, including the management of comorbidities. By looking at diagnoses and treatment practices, he examines if there are racial disparities in the types of care that affect long term patient health. For example, patients that see a specialist for their Alzheimer’s care generally receive treatments that lead to better outcomes.
Using Medicare data, Doug is assessing various health system characteristics that might contribute to these disparities. Understanding those trends can raise awareness of the steps that health care providers, patients, and their families can take to manage the disease optimally.