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Minority Alzheimer's patients the focus of UI nursing professor's
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The relationship between African-American Alzheimer's
patients and their families is the focus of a $200,000 grant to Meridean
Maas, a professor at the University of Iowa College of Nursing.
The grant from the U.S. Public Health Service-Department of Health and
Human Services will help researchers study the effects of family involvement
in the care of African-American people with Alzheimer's disease. Maas says
there has been too little study of this topic with minority participants;
more than 90 percent of subjects and family members studied until now have
This grant is an offshoot of a $1.4 million effort begun in Iowa and
Wisconsin in 1994 to study the effects of family involvement in the care
of those with Alzheimer's. However, that effort did not center on African-American
Because of the small numbers of minority residents in Iowa, UI researchers
are teaming up with counterparts in Missouri and will concentrate on the
St. Louis area to complete the study.
There are indications that African-American families tend to keep relatives
with Alzheimer's in the home rather than institutionalizing them. African-Americans
with Alzheimer's may also be perceived as less of a burden to their families,
Maas says. Researchers hope to explore this further as a means of learning
ways to increase family involvement in the care of Alzheimer's patients.
By studying care habits both in the home and in long-term care facilities,
the researchers hope to find ways to improve the quality of care for people
with Alzheimer's and improve relationships between caregivers and family
members, if care is given outside the home.
"Families (of patients) don't want to complain about care (in long-term
care facilities). They're worried about some kind of retribution in care
of patients," Maas says. "Minority staff may be more inclined
to accept families...we don't know."
From the beginning of the 1994 effort, researchers have said that family
involvement in the treatment of Alzheimer's patients seeks to create a
partnership between family and staff, resolve family-staff conflict, increase
knowledge and encourage better use of resources.
Researchers hope to finish data collection by late summer and to have
early next year. Maas says one of the goals of the project is to collect
data for a larger, multi-site study of the same topic.
Maas is the principal investigator on the grant, which also involves
a number of other UI faculty members as co-investigators.