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2017 Grants - Levy
Engaging Diverse Populations in Behavioral Interventions for MCI
Shellie-Anne Levy, Ph.D.
University of Florida
2017 Alzheimer’s Association Clinical Fellowship to Promote Diversity (AACF-D)
What are the barriers for African Americans to participate in a program to help delay progression to Alzheimer’s disease?
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition that causes slight, but measurable declines in memory and thinking skills and may increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The Healthy Action to Benefit Independence and Thinking (HABIT) program is a behavioral and lifestyle intervention designed to help prevent progression to Alzheimer’s disease in people with MCI. The program uses training in everyday skills such as the use of calendars and note taking to help compensate for memory loss. Other features of the program include exercise, intellectual stimulation, wellness education and support groups for the participants and their partners.
The HABIT program has shown successful outcomes in predominately Caucasian individuals, but it is unknown if the intervention is effective in African Americans, a population known to be at increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. This is in part due to low enrollment of African Americans in clinical trials. More research is needed to better understand barriers to enrollment and find new ways to improve access to interventions in diverse populations at risk for Alzheimer’s.
Shellie-Anne Levy, Ph.D., has planned a pilot study of the HABIT program in African American individuals with MCI. The primary goals of the study are to determine what factors influence participant enrollment and retention in the study. The researchers are particularly interested in overcoming barriers to enrollment and have planned a focus group of people who declined to be in the study to help identify these factors. The research team will also collect preliminary data on the participants who complete the intervention to determine if it can improve cognitive function in the high-risk population.
The results of this work could help identify specific recruitment and retention strategies to improve enrollment of African Americans in clinical studies. Enrollment in interventions like HABIT may delay the progression of MCI and improve cognition and daily living skills that could greatly benefit affected individuals and their families.