FSU multidisciplinary team receives NIH Grant to study medication adherence

Exterior of Children's Medical Center Dallas. Photo courtesy of Christy Perry.
Exterior of Children’s Medical Center Dallas. Photo courtesy of Christy Perry.

Michael Killian, an assistant professor at the FSU College of Social Work
Michael Killian, an assistant professor at the FSU College of Social Work

A team from Florida State University has received more than $400,000 from the National Institutes of Health to investigate how closely children who receive a heart, liver or kidney transplant adhere to medication regimens post-surgery.

Michael Killian, an assistant professor at the FSU College of Social Work, was awarded the two-year grant to explore pediatric patient medication adherence and test what factors might predict specific patient trajectories. The team believes this could improve accuracy in prediction of post-transplant health outcomes.

“This funding will allow us to examine trends in patient compliance with immunosuppressive anti-rejection medications, if there are different types of trends after transplantation, which characteristics of children and parents predict which trends and how these trends are related to post-transplant health outcomes,” Killian said.

Not adhering to immunosuppressive medication prescribed to pediatric patients remains one of the most significant predictors of late acute rejection (LAR) of organ transplants, an increased number and frequency of hospitalizations, the need for replantation and even mortality among pediatric patients. Prior research estimates an average of 30 percent of children and adolescents after an organ transplant do not adhere to their recommended immunosuppressive medication regimens.

The study will address identified knowledge gaps by examining patient and familial factors, whether patients took medication as directed and post-transplant health outcomes in one of the largest pediatric transplant centers in the country. The data examined is from the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas’ Solid Organ Transplant Program.

“Our multidisciplinary team wants to better understand these trends to better support these children and their families as well as inform research looking specifically at medication adherence in pediatric organ transplantation,” Killian said.

FSU College of Social Work Dean Jim Clark said he appreciates the importance of this study. “Dr. Killian and his team are deepening our understanding of how children and families deal with the challenges following transplantation. This understanding will help professionals design more effective post-surgery interventions to improve long term outcomes for children and adolescents.”

Adolescents particularly struggle to comply with prescribed medication schedules and nonadherence is estimated to be twice as prevalent when compared to younger children. Few studies have examined longitudinal trajectories of immunosuppressive medication adherence and the possible differences in post-transplant outcomes. Additional research is also necessary to understand the form and variation in trajectories related to pediatric organ transplants.

Killian will lead the research team as principal investigator with Yaacov Petscher of the FSU College of Social Work as biostatistical adviser and Zhe He of the FSU College of Communication and Information as an additional adviser. They will be joined by Dr. Dev Desai and Dr. Kelli Tripplett from the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and Dr. Eyal Shemesh at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

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