Because of the absence of similar research here or overseas, Ms Hikaka and her team were forced to improvise.
The study analysed nearly 2400 word-search hits from three biomedical databases, looking for leads to uncover prescribing data which may hold useful information including ethnicity and age, Ms Hikaka says.
“I had to get a whole lot of studies that weren’t similarly designed or were reporting on similar things, but as a collective they paint the same picture; there’s inequities in access…”
Eventually, 22 studies met review criteria and from their data results were extrapolated.
Analysing studies of prescribing patterns across several medical condition groups for Maōri 55 years or older, Ms Hikaka’s study found several discrepancies by ethnicity.
For anticoagulants, Māori were found to be prescribed older, higher-risk medicines such as warfarin, instead of newer and less risky dabigatran.
It was also found, despite Māori experiencing higher rates of depression and anxiety, older Māori were less likely than Pākehā to be prescribed WHO-endorsed, best-practice psychotropic medications.