A mental health pharmacist is the first ever to receive a Health Education England/National Institute of Health Research Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship Funding Award to develop a tool to identify patients struggling to take their medicines as prescribed.
Asta Prajapati, a consultant pharmacist at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, received a £350,000 grant to improve medicines adherence in patients with bipolar disorder.
He will develop the tool as part of his PhD at the University of East Anglia (UEA), leading a multidisciplinary team including psychiatrists, health psychologists, patients and carers.
“The tool will be underpinned by the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF), which draws together many different psychological theories into one framework and has successfully informed the development of several behaviour change interventions,” said Prajapati.
It will be tested on around 600 patients with bipolar disorder, will help identify patients who are struggling to take their medicines as prescribed, and their individual reasons will be mapped to the domains of TDF.
“This will allow provision of patient-centred individualised support to improve adherence and, thereby, patient outcome,” he said.
Bipolar disorder is associated with significant disability, functional impairment and use of NHS resources, said Prajapati, and around 40% of patients with bipolar disorder do not take their medication as prescribed, leading to difficulties in daily life, greater likelihood of hospitalisation, and higher risk of suicide.
“I was absolutely delighted when I heard I had been awarded the funding,” he said.
“Hopefully this will inspire future generations of mental health pharmacists to consider competing for this award.
“I am very excited to start this research to help our patients receive the best from their medications — the project has the potential to make a real difference in our patients.”