Medication -related adverse events in older people with dementia
: causes and possible solutions

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This submission for a PhD by previously published work is based upon six publications in peer reviewed journals, reflecting a 9-year research programme. My research has shown, in a coherent and original way, the difficulty in treating people with dementia with safe and effective medication whilst providing research-founded guidance to develop mechanisms to optimise medication choice and minimise iatrogenic events. A wide range of methods, including systematic reviews, meta-analysis, randomised controlled trials (RCTs), quantitative research and mixed methods were used to generate the data, which supported the exploration of three themes.
The first theme, to understand the incidence and causes of medication errors in dementia services, identified that people with dementia may be more susceptible to medication-related iatrogenic disease partly due to inherent disease-related characteristics. One particular area of concern is the use of anti-psychotics to treat the Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD). The second and third themes, respectively, investigated a novel pharmacological and health services intervention to limit anti-psychotic usage. The second phase found that whilst the glutamate receptor blocker memantine showed some promise, further research was clearly required. The third phase found that anti-psychotic usage in dementia may be higher than official figures suggest and that medication review linking primary and secondary care can limit such usage.
My work has been widely cited, reflecting a substantial contribution to the field, in terms of our understanding of the causes of, and possible solutions to limit, medication-related adverse events in people with dementia. More importantly, this work has already informed clinical practice, patients, carers and policy makers by its demonstrable impact on health policy. In particular my research has identified key lines of enquiry for future work and for the development of my own personal research programme to reduce the risk associated with medication in this vulnerable population.
Date of Award18 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish


  • medication-related advers events
  • dementia
  • causes
  • solutions

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