$1.34M Grant Will Be Used to Broaden Psychosocial Research into Dementia Care

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by Mary Chapman |

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded the Alzheimer’s Association $1.34 million to find more evidence-based ways to enhance care and support for those with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or other dementias, and their care partners.

The five-year grant will support a project titled “Leveraging an Interdisciplinary Consortium to Improve Care and Outcomes for Persons Living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia (LINC-AD).” The research is intended to spur more scientific interest and participation in psychosocial dementia care studies while fortifying the current research structure.

The psychosocial approach considers the influence of psychological factors and the social environment on patients’ physical and mental wellness and ability to function.

“The Alzheimer’s Association is committed to improving care and support for people living with Alzheimer’s and all dementia, as well as their care partners,” said Sam Fazio, PhD, the study’s principal investigator, said in a press release. Fazio is senior director, quality care and psychosocial research, with the Alzheimer’s Association.

“This research will develop a framework that defines evidence-based measures and use more consistently to accelerate knowledge, understanding and application of care strategies that improve the quality of life,” Fazio said.

Working with care and support specialists and top dementia care investigators, LINC-AD will:

  • look at current measures used in dementia care investigations;
  • support development of new evidence-based measures to narrow research gaps;
  • work to make known and put in place these measures and care tools in future dementia care studies, and;
  • broaden current measures to more comprehensively include quality of life, resilience and self-efficacy, and not just decline and impairment.

“The study offers a unique opportunity to usher in a new direction for psychosocial research examining the care of people living with dementia and their caregivers,” said Joanne Pike, DrPH, chief program officer, Alzheimer’s Association.

“While it’s important to study decline and impairment associated with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, it’s vital that we also work to advance new strategies and interventions that can improve the quality of life throughout the disease continuum for both individuals with dementia and their caregivers,” she said.

The promotion of consistently-used measurement tools for assessing person-centered care will offer more opportunities to compare study findings, foster collaborations, and hone current research focus.

“There are nearly 10 million new cases of dementia globally each year,” said Sheryl Zimmerman, PhD, the project’s research lead. “We need to identify and bridge current gaps in research that will address the care needs of these individuals and their caregivers. This project provides a vital opportunity to shape the future direction of research, and ultimately, practice and policy.”

Many members of the study’s multidisciplinary team also contributed to the organization’s 2018 Dementia Care Practice Recommendations that seek to ensure person-centered care in community-based and long-term settings. Enhancement of current measures and tools is expected to foster a better understanding and assessment of how the recommendations affect psychosocial care issues.

In addition to calling for research papers that can further contribute to and advance dementia care investigations, the organization will meet with experts to comprehensively examine and analyze current dementia care study. Through its International Research Grant Program, the Alzheimer’s Association will subsequently fund at least 12 seed grants that emphasize priority areas and gaps experts identified.

After the project is done, and to make data and findings available globally, the organization will host a digital repository for the study’s recommended measures and tools, and add a psychosocial element to its Global Alzheimer’s Association Interactive Network.

The grant marks the first time the Alzheimer’s Association has been directly funded by the NIH to be a study’s principal investigator.