ETSU researchers part of team testing medication adherence interventions in vulnerable populations

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, September 13, 2023

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JOHNSON CITY – Two East Tennessee State University researchers are part of an interprofessional statewide team that will study ways to improve medication adherence in vulnerable and disadvantaged populations in Memphis, Knoxville and Johnson City.
Dr. KariLynn Dowling-McClay, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice and director of the Academic Pharmacy Fellowship at ETSU Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, and Dr. Hadii Mamudu, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Risk Research with the College of Public Health, are both collaborators on the project, dubbed the Medication Affordability, Accessibility and Availability in Care Transitions (Med AAAction) Study.
“The days following a hospital discharge are a high-risk time when people are still in recovery, trying to manage new treatment plans, and facing many expenses and other challenges,” said Dowling-McClay. “It is vital that we find new ways of providing care for individuals with limited resources to help them best manage their chronic diseases and avoid rehospitalization. Pharmacy teams are well-positioned in our communities to assist with bridging these gaps in care.”
Med AAAction is led by Dr. Satya Surbhi with the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center (UTHSC) and funded through a $3.5 million R01 grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The study will involve nearly 400 Medicaid and uninsured patients at three large non-profit health centers in Tennessee, including Regional One Health in Memphis, UT Medical Center in Knoxville and Ballad Health’s Johnson City Medical Center.
Inpatients at those facilities will be provided with free medications, medication delivery and care coordination to improve health outcomes and test whether these interventions improve medication adherence and reduce hospitalizations, emergency room visits and financial burden on socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.
“Vulnerable patients experience major gaps in care after transitions from hospital to community setting,” said Dr. Surbhi, an assistant professor in the Center for Health System Improvement in the College of Medicine and director of measurement and reporting for the Tennessee Population Health Consortium.
“Thus, my long-term goal is to demonstrate the effectiveness of a care transitions adherence intervention model for vulnerable populations that can be readily adopted and sustained by health care delivery systems across the U.S.”
ETSU faculty, staff and graduates regularly produce premier research, frequently earning competitive grants and fellowships.
To learn more about the ETSU College of Public Health, visit For more information about the ETSU Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, visit

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