By Gillian Slade on March 6, 2018.
A provincial study is looking at whether seniors being unable to afford prescription medication is resulting in heart attacks, strokes or other chronic ailments.
The goal is to have 4,500 participants in the study, with at least another 1,200 needed.
The University of Calgary’s study will look at whether low-income seniors are struggling to pay for medications and whether free preventative medications and/or personalized education would reduce chronic illnesses.
To be eligible for the study you must be at least 65 years old, be an Alberta resident, and have an annual household income of less than $50,000. You must have experienced either a heart attack, a stroke, chronic kidney disease or heart failure in the past. You must also have any two of the following: Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoke more than half a pack of cigarettes a day.
No travel is required for interviews or assessments. Once enrolled you are asked to complete a survey and there will be follow-up surveys annually for a total of about four throughout the study.
Recruitment for participants will continue at least until the end of summer, said Jane Fletcher, ACCESS study research assistant at the University of Calgary. Participants in the study have a 50 per cent chance of having their medication covered and about half will receive a personalized education program.
In this study researchers are assessing the outcomes of people randomly assigned to different intervention groups within the study. Those who continue their present medication coverage and usual education through their physician’s office, those who receive a personalized education plan, those who receive free preventive medications, or those who receive both the personalized education plan and free preventive medications.
Some study participants will continue to pay for their medications and receive knowledge through their family physician’s office, and some will receive free preventative medications and a personalized education plan. If selected for the free medication it is all handled through Bluecross.
About 40 per cent of people with chronic conditions take their prescribed medications 100 per cent of the time. There are some conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol where symptoms may not be bothersome and it can be difficult for patients to understand the importance of taking preventive medications when they are not bothered by symptoms.
A lack of money is a reason some people might not get their prescriptions filled. Although insurance covers a significant portion of the cost of medication, the amount of the co-payment can still be a significant burden for some seniors.
An assessment for eligibility, data collection and patient education is handled by the ACCESS research team via telephone or email.
Anyone interested in being part of the study should call 1-844-944-8927 to determine if they qualify. Additional information is available online at http://www.accesstrial.ca
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