Our expert answers 3 Questions
My research interests have always been around the appropriate use of medications. Much of my work has focused on learning about factors that may contribute to non-adherence, and developing and assessing interventions that can improve medication adherence, including innovative pharmacy services. Currently, my health services research focuses primarily on the safe and appropriate use of medicines by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
I am always learning more about the complexity of care required for people with disabilities and the policies and systems in place to support them and their healthcare needs, which are quite unique. Through my research, I have found that having an educated and engaged support network is a good predictor for positive health outcomes for individuals with disabilities, particularly when it comes to medication management. One part of my research is looking at improving health literacy among caregivers of adults with developmental disabilities, while another is examining health disparities related to medication management among individuals with disabilities. Again, having support networks in place, whether they are formal (such as job training programs, paid support staff, or schooling/education), or informal (family support) is so important for these individuals to succeed and lead healthy lives.
One initiative I am part of, led by Michelle Meade in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation in the Medical School, is working to train healthcare providers on the needs of individuals with disabilities and their support networks, particularly people’s daily activities and how these interface with health-related needs and health outcomes. Addressing the medication management needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities is also work that hits very close to home. I have a child with special needs, and as he gets older I am constantly questioning how our healthcare system is going to support him. I am in a special position to conduct research and raise awareness in ways that will help both my child and all individuals with disabilities. By focusing on the appropriate use of medications by this population, and emphasizing the importance of a strong support network, I hope to help close the disparity gap. In turn, I hope to improve care, outcomes, and adherence of medication for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.