A screenshot from a Team Alice video, which advises patients to carry a list of their medications and to speak up about their concerns with their health care providers.

Team Alice Evaluating Tools for Deprescribing Discussions

Published November 25, 2020

Team Alice, an initiative of the UB Center for Successful Aging, has been awarded a $60,000 grant from the US Deprescribing Research Network (USDeN) to evaluate an educational video designed to encourage patient/caregiver-initiated deprescribing conversations with doctors and to evaluate its impact on medication use.

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Team Alice was inspired by the untimely death of Alice Brennan from preventable medication errors and system failure.

Co-founded by Alice’s daughter, Mary Brennan-Taylor, an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Family Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, it is now a multi-pronged initiative and includes:

  • a patient/caregiver branch (Team Alice Elder Voices)
  • a health system branch (Team Alice Deprescribing Partnership of Western New York)
  • an interdisciplinary deprescribing research branch

Ranjit Singh, MB BChir, associate professor of family medicine and director of the Primary Care Research Institute at the Jacobs School, and Robert G. Wahler Jr., PharmD, clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, lead the Team Alice initiative and are co-principal investigators on the USDeN grant.

Attention to Deprescribing Among Older Adults

Deprescribing, especially among the elderly, is receiving increased attention. A recent study led by School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences faculty members has revealed that the prescription of potentially inappropriate medications to older adults is linked to increased hospitalizations, and significantly higher patient costs.

With separate funding from the RRF Foundation for Aging, Team Alice Elder Voices has developed a series of videos based on Alice’s story that aim to empower people like Alice to save themselves from medication harm.

The 4-minute animated video, “Beware of Medications in the Hospital: Your Life Depends on It!,” is one of three that are available on the Team Alice YouTube channel. It highlights four lifesaving messages about hospital-based prescribing:

  • bring medication and allergy lists to the hospital
  • know what medications the hospital is giving you
  • make sure the medications are correct
  • pay attention to any new symptoms that arise while in the hospital

Testing Videos Across WNY Primary Care Sites

The USDeN award is a grant planning award that will support Team Alice’s effort to engage with the stakeholders to develop and submit larger grant proposals to test videos at primary care sites across Western New York and to evaluate outcomes, including hospitalizations, readmissions and current medication counts for patients at the sites.

Co-investigators from the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Department of Pharmacy Practice are:

Jennifer A. Stoll, PhD, and Laura L. Brady, PhD, are both postdoctoral research fellows and research assistant professors of family medicine in the Jacobs School, and are also co-investigators.

Huei-Yen “Winnie” Chen, PhD, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is an additional co-investigator.

USDeN Funded by National Institute on Aging

In two UB Alumni webinars in November, members of Team Alice explained how multiple medical errors led to the tragic, untimely death of an older woman and how, by collaborating with physicians, pharmacists and other health care providers, patients can help prevent medication harm.

Brennan-Taylor presented a similar webinar for USDeN, where she discussed her mother’s story and Team Alice core members shared selected research driven by patients and other stakeholders. 

Funded by the National Institute on Aging, the US Deprescribing Research Network develops and disseminates evidence about deprescribing for older adults, and in doing so helps improve medication use among older adults and the outcomes that are important to them.

The UB Center for Successful Aging seeks to foster novel, even unexpected, research collaborations among UB faculty and external community-based partners to solve challenges facing older adults.