houston voices

Integrating humanities can improve health outcomes, Houston researcher finds

How this UH pharmacologist tapped into humanities to improve health outcomes in her study. Graphic byMiguel Tovar/University of Houston

The humanities, encompassing language, literature, arts, and history, are often seen as separate from scientific research in universities.

However, they hold the potential to contribute to improved health outcomes by fostering empathy, understanding of cultural context, and enhancing human connections. Meghana Trivedi, an associate professor of Pharmacy Practice and Translational Research at the University of Houston, has embarked on a research project to explore this transformative potential.

Using media to improve medicine adherence

Trivedi, a pharmacologist focusing on developing new drugs for breast cancer treatment, noticed a common issue among breast cancer patients — non-adherence to medication instructions, particularly among minority patients with low socioeconomic status. This non-adherence increases the risk of recurrence and poses a significant national problem.

Trivedi sought to understand the reasons behind this non-adherence and discovered that traditional educational pamphlets were ineffective in improving medication adherence. Instead, she decided to explore a theater-based approach.

Trivedi’s research involves developing a culturally sensitive educational video for breast cancer patients, written by a local African American playwright in collaboration with the clinical team and input from African American survivors. Additionally, her team is testing the effectiveness of motivational interviewing, where pharmacy students personally engage with patients to address barriers to adherence and suggest solutions. Trivedi believes that these approaches, rooted in the humanities, will demonstrate their impact on health outcomes.

The role of humanities in team science

Recognizing the value of interdisciplinary collaboration, Trivedi incorporated the arts and humanities into her research by partnering with professors from the School of Theatre and Dance and the Valenti School of Communication at UH. This collaboration has highlighted the importance of incorporating arts into STEM fields, leading Trivedi to advocate for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics).

Trivedi emphasizes that effective team science requires shared interest in the project, transparency, and honesty among team members. “We are a very efficient team working to achieve a common and important goal – to improve treatment outcomes and survival in patients.”

The Big Idea

Trivedi’s research underscores the role of social and cultural factors in medication adherence among specific patient groups. By posing her research question outside of her discipline, Trivedi engaged new collaborators who became invested in — and contributed directly to — positive health outcomes. This interdisciplinary approach, combining the insights of the humanities and the collaborative nature of team science, facilitated the development of novel solutions to enhance medication adherence.


This article originally appeared on the University of Houston's The Big Idea. Cory Thaxton, the author of this piece, is the communications coordinator for The Division of Research.

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Tenants of this downtown office building just got an upgrade. Rendering via 717texas.com

Houston-based real estate giant Hines is rolling out a new smart building platform with the goal of better serving workers and workplaces at its buildings across the country, including one building in Houston that's aiming to be an office building of the future.

From the employee perspective, the new Hines app will allow employees and employers to book spaces within buildings, order food from on-site cafes and restaurants, book on-site fitness classes and access the building via their smartphone or smartwatch. For employers and tenants, the app will help them gain insights into building performance, occupancy data, ESG targets and employee satisfaction, according to a statement from Hines.

“We’re committed to a people-centric experience and this investment takes that commitment to the next level,” Ilene Goldfine, chief digital strategy officer at Hines, says in a statement. “The traditional systems were managed building by building and made it difficult or impossible to track performance across a portfolio. This new digital ecosystem, which unites back-end technology with front-end experiences, will deliver long-term cost savings to our investors and clients.

"Our clients will also be able to track employee satisfaction, make informed decisions about their space needs and ensure they’re monitoring their carbon targets,” Goldfine continues.

The new digital platform will be launched at eight Hines buildings across five cities, including 717 Texas Ave., a 33-story Class A office tower in Downtown Houston.

The other buildings where Hines will roll out the app include:

  • Salesforce Tower in Chicago
  • 1144 15th Street in Denver
  • The Kearns Building in Salt Lake City
  • CIBC Square in Toronto
  • T3 Bayside in Toronto
  • Two buildings at T3 Sterling Road in Toronto

The company plans to add more locations across its global portfolio.

Hines' opened its first location of The Square coworking space at 717 Texas Ave. in 2020 as part of its coworking concept Hines². The company, in collaboration with Montreal-based Ivanhoé Cambridge, opened a second Houston location of The Square recently and has a coworking space in The Kearns Building in Salt Lake City where it will roll out the new app.

Earlier this year, Hines also launched a sustainability-focused business unit, known as EXP by Hines. The unit, led by Hines veteran Doug Holte, aims to address “the disruptive changes in the built environment.”

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