$1.4 Million awarded to nursing researchers investigating informal caregiving networks of adults with dementia

Faculty members from the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing and the Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing have received a $1.4 million R56 grant from the National Institute on Aging to study the informal caregiving networks of older adults with dementia. Researchers hope to create an interactive digital tool that captures the entirety of caregiving, extending beyond the perspective of primary caregivers.

“We aim to shift the focus of caregiving research from the dominant primary caregiver-older adult relationship to more realistic caregiving situations in which collaboration must occur among many individuals,” says Emory School of Nursing professor Mi-Kyung Song, PhD, RN, FAAN, who is leading the research alongside University of Pittsburgh professor Annette DeVito Dabbs, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN. “Previous research points to a substantial sharing of activities among multiple caregivers. However, in both clinical and research settings, we typically do not assess who is involved in caregiving other than the primary caregiver and what role these individuals play.”

DeVito Dabbs and Song expect the research will help develop CareNet, an interactive digital tool with an embedded social network survey. They hope CareNet will serve as a valuable resource for clinicians and researchers looking to gain a comprehensive understanding of caregiving networks.

“Our hope and expectation are that this tool will help provide a more comprehensive perspective of informal caregiving to help health care professionals as they guide patients and caregivers,” DeVito Dabbs says. “The ultimate goal is to support and provide the best care possible for older adults with dementia and their caregivers.”

The research team also includes Sudeshna Paul, PhD, MS, of the Emory School of Nursing; Mary Beth Happ, PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA, of The Ohio State University College of Nursing; and Joanna Mundy, PhD, Jay Varner, MS, and Sara Palmer, MA, of the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship.