Research News

UB’s Team Alice partners on project to improve medication use among older adults

Screen shot of animation showing concept of "deprescribing" featuring an elderly patient accompanied by a family member discussing medication with a team of health professionals.

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. Image courtesy of Team Alice


Published October 26, 2020


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

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, adjunct faculty member in the Department of Family Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, it is now a multi-pronged initiative that includes a patient/caregiver branch (Team Alice Elder Voices), a health system branch (Team Alice Deprescribing Partnership of Western New York) and an interdisciplinary de-prescribing research branch.

Ranjit Singh, associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine in the Jacobs School, and Robert G. Wahler Jr., clinical associate professor in the Department 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.

De-prescribing, especially among the elderly, is receiving increased attention. A recent study led by UB School of Pharmacy faculty members David Jacobs, Collin Clark and colleagues including Wahler 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 aims to empower people like Alice to save themselves from medication harm. The four-minute animated video, “Beware of Medications in the Hospital: Your Life Depends on It,” available on the Team Alice youtube channel, 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.

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 the video(s) at primary care sites across Western New York and evaluate outcomes, including hospitalizations, readmissions and current medication counts for patients at the sites.

Co-investigators include pharmacy faculty members Jacobs, Clark, Christopher Daly and Scott Monte; Huei-Yen Chen, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and Jennifer Stoll, research assistant professor, Department of Family Medicine.

Webinars tell Team Alice’s story

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

Saving Alice: Leveraging Tragedy Into Action-Part 1 takes place Nov. 4; Part 2 will be held Nov. 18.  

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. This was Brennan-Taylor’s 15th time presenting her mother’s story to a national audience.