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Curtin team receives Alzheimer’s grant

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A group from Curtin University have been awarded a National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant to undertake a study of drug treatment regimes and survival outcomes for Western Australians with Alzheimer’s.

The project was awarded a $180,970 grant for two years, and will use Australian population linked health data.

The study, headed up by Dr Renate Zilkens, Research Fellow at the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute’s (CHIRI) Centre for Population Health Research (CPR), will study patterns of care and outcomes for people with Alzheimer’s.

“We need to increase our understanding of how many Australians are living with dementia,” Dr Zilkens said.

“Present estimates are derived from meta-analysis of largely European studies.

“Australian policy makers also lack details on how Australians with dementia are managed within the healthcare sector, making strategic health care planning problematic.”

The research will provide critical data for strategic sustainable healthcare planning and assist in the development of dementia-specific healthcare.

“The study will examine the use of prescription drugs, the survival experience from time of first supply of Alzheimer medication and the identification of inequalities in accessing medications,” she said.

Western Australian’s with Alzheimer’s disease will be identified through prescription records of Alzheimer medications in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) database. Each person’s PBS records will be linked to their hospital and, if available, death record. No person-identifying data will be released to researchers.

Medication and hospital use will be studied from when they start on Alzheimer medication. By linking health data, the study will show how long Australians live (on average) with Alzheimer’s after starting their dementia medication. The project will provide critical information for strategic sustainable health care planning and assist in the development of dementia-specific healthcare policies.

The project previously received funding from Alzheimer’s Australia in the form of a $90,000 Research Fellowship, with Curtin contributing an equal amount in a matched –funding arrangement.

Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 70 per cent of all dementia types and is typically a slow, degenerative disease. Australia is heading towards an epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease, with direct healthcare costs due to Alzheimer’s predicted to be $6 billion this year.

Dr Renate Zilkens, Centre for Population Health Research (CPR), Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 1852, Email:

Jaymes Brown, Public Relations, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 9085, Mobile: 0400 729 027, Email:

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