Dr. Paula Rochon
We have an increasingly aging population, and the majority of older people are women,” says Dr. Paula Rochon. “Safe prescribing of medications is key to their health and quality of life.”
However, many drugs have been trialed primarily on healthy younger people, though their use may be greatest among vulnerable older women – the group that uses the most drug therapies. In contrast, Rochon is focusing her research on specifically examining how drug therapies impact older women.
“As physicians, when we understand how drugs uniquely affect older women, we can make more informed prescribing decisions for our patients,” says Rochon.
Leading a team of researchers from Canada and the United States, Rochon set out to examine the use of antipsychotics in women.
Even though our findings surprised us, we gained some important insights into both women’s and men’s health.
“We began this study comparing women and men expecting to fi nd that antipsychotics had more negative effects in older women,” says Rochon.
Rochon learned that older men with dementia are more likely to experience a serious event than women in the same age group. However, she also discovered that, overall, more women than men experienced a serious event because older women outnumber older men in the population.
“Even though our findings surprised us, we gained some important insights into both women’s and men’s health,”says Rochon.
Through this work, and through many other peer-reviewed publications and knowledge translation efforts, Rochon’s team is helping healthcare professionals around the world understand the unique needs of vulnerable older women and men.
“My aim is to identify ways to improve safe and effective prescribing for all older people,” says Rochon.
THE POWER OF MANY
Paula Rochon is trained as a geriatrician, and her program of research is informed by her clinical experience caring for vulnerable older adults with multiple chronic conditions.
- In the Toronto academic community and beyond, Rochon works with a diverse team of scientists with a range of clinical and methodological expertise that enhances the perspective of their research. She is a committed mentor, and many of her trainees have advanced their careers to become independent investigators.
- At Women’s College Research Institute, former trainee Dr. Andrea Gruneir is an epidemiologist who worked with Rochon as a post-doctoral fellow. Today, Gruneir has an independent program of research that examines how transitions of care can impact vulnerable older adults. Her fi ndings are helping policy-makers rein in high healthcare costs by advancing systems that support older people with chronic conditions. Gruneir has recently been awarded a highly competitive CIHR New Investigator Award in support of her research.
- Rochon is supported by the CIHR as well as provincial funding sources.