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2010 Grants - Gibson
Beliefs About Dementia-Related Symptoms Among African-Americans
Brent E. Gibson, Ph.D.
The Jewish Home and Hospital for Aged
New York, New York
2010 New Investigator Research Grant
In the U.S., minority racial and ethnic populations are growing faster than the majority White population, and the proportion of persons aged 65 and older who are minority group members is increasing more rapidly than the proportions within other age groups. Thus, the proportion of the population with Alzheimer's will grow dramatically among members of minority racial/ethnic groups. Among those aged 65 and older, African-Americans remain the largest minority group, and their numbers are projected to increase four-fold over the next 50 years. Recent studies have also found older African- Americans are at greater risk of Alzheimer's than their White counterparts.
Brent E. Gibson, Ph.D., proposes to study how dementia-related symptoms are recognized, defined and assigned meaning (explanatory models) among African-Americans. This study also will explore the ways in which African-Americans' explanatory models can facilitate or inhibit help-seeking. The first step in this process is to thoroughly describe the beliefs and explanatory models that a particular cultural group uses to make sense of Alzheimer's and dementia-related symptoms. Therefore, this is a qualitative study using in-depth, open-ended (ethnographic) interviews with four groups of informants (15 per group): African-American non-caregivers, African-American dementia family caregivers, home health professionals (nurses and social workers), and clergy with predominantly African-American congregations.
Findings from this study will be used to develop outreach and educational materials targeted to African-Americans experiencing dementia-related symptoms and/or their family members. These findings also will be used for preliminary steps toward developing an instrument to quantitatively assess explanatory models among African-Americans. Finally, findings will be used to develop proposals to seek funding for larger research projects examining explanatory models within and across other ethnoracial groups as well as examining the effects of explanatory models on help-seeking, diagnosis, treatment adherence, and health outcomes.