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UAB News

  • UAB study looks to improve medication adherence in African-American glaucoma patients
    African-Americans are at increased risk for glaucoma, and a new UAB study looks to find ways to improve medication adherence in that patient group

    Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham are hoping a telemedicine-based health promotion intervention can improve medication adherence rates among older African-Americans with glaucoma. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness among African-Americans, who are more than three times more likely to develop glaucoma than are Caucasians.

    “Not only are African-Americans at increased risk for glaucoma, studies have shown that they are at increased risk for being nonadherent with medications for glaucoma,” said principal investigator Laura Dreer, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Ophthalmology. “Reasons for nonadherence include age-related memory loss, finances and barriers to care.”

    Unchecked, glaucoma can have a serious negative impact on an individual’s quality of life, independence and everyday functioning and can potentially lead to blindness. Standard therapy is the use of pressure-reducing eye drops that can significantly delay or prevent the onset of disease.

    Dreer’s study, funded by the National Eye Institute, is recruiting 240 adult African-Americans with glaucoma to determine whether a culturally relevant behavioral health intervention can improve adherence. The multicomponent intervention includes glaucoma education, motivational interviewing and problem-solving training.

    “Part of the objective is to plant a seed and help these individuals to reach a better understanding of their glaucoma and to realize the importance of taking increased responsibility for their own health behaviors,” Dreer said. “We’ve made great strides in getting people to take charge of their health and wellness in areas such as diabetes, cardiovascular health and nutrition. We believe glaucoma is deserving of the same effort.”

    Standard medication therapy is usually one or two eye drops, once or twice a day. The tool measures how many drops are dispensed at any one time, and records the date and time of dispensation. Patients at UAB’s glaucoma clinic who enroll in the study will use the device for one month. A failure rate of 75 percent or greater will transfer the subject into the full study.

    The study subjects will be divided into two sections. One will receive standard glaucoma therapy, which includes medication, laser treatments, conventional surgery or any combination of these. The second section will receive standard therapy and the telemedicine-based behavioral health intervention.

    Participants will have one in-person visit with the research team at the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital, followed by a weekly phone interaction for six weeks.

    Researchers will employ a self-measuring drug dispensing tool to determine whether patients are adherent or nonadherent with medications. Standard medication therapy is usually one or two eye drops, once or twice a day. The tool measures how many drops are dispensed at any one time, and records the date and time of dispensation. Patients at UAB’s glaucoma clinic who enroll in the study will use the device for one month. A failure rate of 75 percent or greater will transfer the subject into the full study.

    Outcomes will be assessed at three-, seven- and 12-month follow-up visits, by seeing whether glaucoma medication adherence improves in the group getting the intervention.

    “The practical question to be addressed is does a culturally relevant health promotion-based intervention improve glaucoma medication adherence among a high-risk segment of the population,” Dreer said. “Information from this project will be particularly useful for African-Americans with glaucoma, their families and eye care providers.”

  • ArtPlay presents MoveSpeakSpin in “The Daughters of Hypatia: Circles of Mathematical Women” on Oct. 24
    A sensory-friendly performance will also be offered earlier in the day, in a supportive environment for an audience of families and friends with children or adults who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensitivity issues.

    The Daughters of Hypatia: Circles of Mathematical Women” is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, at UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $9 for children, $11 for adults. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org. A special sensory-friendly performance will take place earlier in the day at 11 a.m.

    The Santa Cruz, California-based dance company MoveSpeakSpin honors the often-overlooked contributions of women to mathematics in this ensemble piece. The dancers recount intriguing stories from the lives of the foremothers of mathematics, as well as leading contemporaries in the field, and perform in patterns suggestive of the mathematicians’ work.

    Choreographer Karl Schaffer, a mathematician himself, uses live projections of video mosaics of dancers. The production features geometric art designs by Marjorie Rice, guest choreography by Sarah-Marie Belcastro and musical compositions by the women’s vocal ensemble Zambra, as well as songs by Vi Hart and Victor Spiegel.

    MoveSpeakSpin has created groundbreaking dance performances linking mathematics and dance with humor, playfulness and physicality, and members have performed at the opening of the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City and a conference on math and the arts in Seoul, Korea.

    An additional free sensory-friendly performance of this show is planned at 11 a.m. at the ASC. Presented by ArtPlay in partnership with KultureCity, the sensory-friendly performance will feature a friendly, supportive environment for an audience of families and friends with children or adults who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensitivity issues. Slight adjustments to the production have been made, including the reduction of any jarring sounds or strobe lights focused into the audience. The outer lobby will include quiet areas and an activity area staffed with autism specialists for those who need to leave their seats during the performance. All are welcome to come to the performance, with the understanding that the theater is a judgment-free zone with a performance geared toward individuals with sensory issues. Call 205-975-2787 or visit www.AlysStephens.org.

    ArtPlay is the Alys Stephens Center’s home for arts education. ArtPlay also presents Meet the Artist school shows, set for 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23.

  • UAB continues to put Safety Task Force recommendations into action
    Implementation of safety measures continues following UAB Safety Task Force assessment and action plan.

    The launch of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Rave Guardian safety app and continued emergency notification upgrades — two of many recommendations outlined in the action plan of the UAB Safety Task Force finalized during the spring 2015 semester following input and feedback from students, faculty, staff and outside experts — highlight the latest actions taken as a result of the thorough campus safety review.

    “Our highest priority is the safety of our students, faculty, staff, patients and guests,” said Chief Anthony Purcell of the UAB Police Department. “Our accredited police department trains regularly and works closely with the UAB and Birmingham communities to stay at the forefront of law enforcement excellence in a diverse environment of higher education, health care, and arts and entertainment.”

    In late summer of 2014, UAB President Ray L. Watts initiated a review of the institution’s on-campus threat preparedness that would enlist outside consultants. An October assault and robbery in an on-campus parking deck accelerated that initiative; following immediate actions including campus-wide communications, increased UAB Police Department patrols, and extended hours for campus escorts and shuttles, the administration assembled a Safety Task Force.

    That group of UAB and external constituents conducted a comprehensive survey of facility features, existing safety support services and education programs, as well as institutional practices and procedures intended to create and sustain a safe environment. Faculty and student leaders participated in the process, and the entire student body was encouraged to read the task force’s draft report and provide suggestions and questions.

    “Broad input was imperative in these efforts, and I thank everyone who contributed to what became a robust assessment and action plan,” said Vice President Allen Bolton, who chaired the task force. “Students and parents, faculty and staff, and community partners, thank you. We continue to implement and build on the actions outlined in the report and will continue to invest in these and other safety initiatives as we strive for a crime-free campus.”

    In conducting its assessment and developing its action plan, the task force studied best practices and considered strategies used by peer universities. The group also reviewed UAB crime statistics and took into account a safety study conducted by the Assessment Unit of the School of Public Health, which demonstrated that the perception of crime on campus considerably outweighs actual crime. Safety on the UAB campus compares favorably to other universities, particularly regional institutions in or near urban settings, including peer universities like Tulane, Houston, Emory, Vanderbilt and Memphis.

    *Violent crimes against persons: Murder, Negligent Manslaughter, Sexual Offenses, Robbery, Aggravated Assault

    The full Safety Task Force report and action plan is posted on the UAB Emergency Management website. It addresses communication and education, facilities, safety services, specific student concerns, and other safety topics like pedestrian safety. Key recommendations in different phases of implementation — in place, in process, in planning stages or under feasibility review — include:

    • Permanently increase UABPD patrols by plain-clothed and uniformed officers
    • Update B-Alert emergency messaging protocol and tools to increase speed and accuracy
    • Improve parking structures to enhance safety
    • Launch a free, university-sponsored smartphone application, Rave Guardian
    • Increase transportation options through Blazer Express and Safety Escort Service
    • Improve communication protocols and expectations with external agencies like Crimestoppers
    • Expand communication and safety education for students and employees, and train additional UABPD officers to conduct safety education like Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) Programs
    • Review campus facilities for potential expanded lockdown of UAB buildings
    • Work with community partners to improve campus lighting
    • Build a more robust on-campus surveillance camera network — now with more than 2,800 cameras on campus
    • Partner with appropriate stakeholders on neighborhood revitalization efforts
    • Revise communication protocols for incident management

    Specifics of many safety initiatives implemented — details of UABPD patrols, locations and operations of cameras — cannot be shared publicly for security reasons; but initiatives that can be shared will be included in communications to the UAB community.

    UAB Executive Director of UAB Emergency Management Randy Pewitt says this process does not end with this report and action plan, or with the initiatives implemented to date, and he hopes students, faculty and staff will be active in learning about what UAB and UABPD are doing, as well as what they themselves can do.

    “Awareness is vital to maintaining a safe campus, and we encourage the UAB community to share our responsibility for safety by taking full advantage of available resources,” Pewitt said. “Read the task force report, download the free RAVE Guardian safety app, call for on-campus safety escorts and use Blazer Express, take advantage of UABPD education and safety programs, and update your B-Alert emergency notification profile. If students, faculty and staff read their campus communications like the eReporter and Greenmail electronic newsletters, they can stay aware of important updates and resources.”

    Learn more at uab.edu/emergency and uab.edu/police.

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