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Mafi JN, Walling AM, Villaflores C, Vangala S, Sorensen A, Cheng E, Turner A, Trutner Z, Cheng G, Arbanas JC, Waterman B, Shu S, Goldstein N, Sarkisian C. A pragmatic parallel arm randomized-controlled trial of a multi-pronged electronic health record-based clinical decision support tool protocol to reduce low-value antipsychotic prescriptions among older adults with Alzheimer's and related dementias. PLoS ONE. 2022 Dec 20; 17(12):e0277409.
Among patients with Alzheimer's disease and its related dementias (ADRD) with behavioral disturbances, antipsychotic prescriptions have limited efficacy and increase the risk of death. Yet, physicians continue to routinely prescribe low-value antipsychotic medications for behavioral disturbances among patients with ADRD. We designed a pragmatic randomized-controlled trial to measure the impact of a behavioral economic electronic health record (EHR) clinical decision support (CDS) intervention to reduce physician prescriptions of new antipsychotic medications among patients with ADRD. Utilizing a pragmatic parallel arm randomized-controlled trial design, the study will randomize eligible physicians from a large academic health system to either receive a EHR CDS intervention or not (control) when they prescribe a new antipsychotic medication during visits with patients with ADRD. The intervention will include three components: 1) alerts prescribers that antipsychotic prescriptions increase mortality risk (motivating physicians' intrinsic desire for non-malfeasance); 2) offers non-pharmacological behavioral resources for caregivers; 3) auto-defaults the prescription to contain the lowest dose and number of pill-days (n = 30) without refills if the prescriber does not cancel the order (appealing to default bias). Over 1 year, we will compare the cumulative total of new antipsychotic pill-days prescribed (primary outcome) by physicians in the intervention group versus in the control group. The study protocol meets international SPIRIT guidelines. Behavioral economics, or the study of human behavior as a function of more than rational incentives, considering a whole host of cognitive and social psychological preferences, tendencies, and biases, is increasingly recognized as an important conceptual framework to improve physician behavior. This pragmatic trial is among the first to combine two distinct behavioral economic principles, a desire for non-malfeasance and default bias, to improve physician prescribing patterns for patients with ADRD. We anticipate this trial will substantially advance understanding of how behavioral-economic informed EHR CDS tools can potentially reduce harmful, low-value care among patients with ADRD.