Matt Schorr
September 21, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. PREVENTABLE (PRagmatic EValuation of evENTs And Benefits of Lipid-lowering in oldEr adults) is a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)-funded study aiming to learn from patients 75 years and older if statin could help them live well for longer. Each month, PREVENTABLE publishes an email newsletter with updates on its work and spotlights on individual team members.

In August, it spotlighted Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA) Community Principle Investigator Neely M. Williams, MDiv.

 

‘A major change, and a good change’

“I discussed how I got involved in research,” Williams said of the interview. “Originally, I was the Patient Representative from PCORnet. I worked on the Planning Committee for PREVENTABLE, and the Steering Committee formed from that. To that end, I‘m a Patient Representative on the Steering Committee.”

Williams also serves as Liaison to PREVENTABLE’s Patient Advisory Group, providing feedback from patients in all elements of the study.

“It’s a very worthwhile thing, helping to ensure that the research is able to develop a pace that they can sit with those patients and listen to what they have to say,” Williams commented “It’s like tapping into an unused resource, because at this age, no one is asking advice of them. They’re just telling them what to do. It’s a major change, and it’s a good change.”

 

‘People speak in stories’

What makes Williams’ contributions useful, she believes, is her age.

“I’m not over 75,” she quipped, “but I’m close.”

This enables her to offer a perspective to PREVENTABLE that someone outside her age group wouldn’t have. She understands the demographic’s pace and language, and she knows how to listen.

“People speak in stories that tell their successes and failures,” Williams explained. “The challenge for researchers is to turn those stories into researchable questions and find solutions. We have to all remember that’s how we make a useful contribution, and get the wisdom of that age group.”

 

‘Culture change for research’

Statin, the class of drugs at the heart of PREVENTABLE, is commonly used to lower cholesterol. The study hopes to learn if – and how much – it can prevent dementia, disability and heart disease.

“It’s a worthy study,” Williams noted. “It’s very much needed, because there’s not a lot out there.”

The biggest challenges researchers face, according to Williams, is communicating with the people at the heart of the study. Statistics and medical facts serve as crucial evidence, but learning from patients’ respective experiences will be, as Williams called it, “a culture change for research.”

 

About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance

Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas -- community engagement, interprofessional education and research -- by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshops.