Advance care planning with persons with dementia and family caregivers

This project is closed.

We are looking for volunteer research assistants to work on our research project. The goal of the study is to develop and pilot test an intervention using decision aid delivered by a decision coach to promote ACP among PWDs and their family caregivers. This project has two phases: cognitive interviews with PWDs, family caregivers and healthcare providers to refine the intervention. Second phase of the study is to conduct pre/post evaluation of the intervention with PWDs and family caregivers.

The position will provide students with the opportunity to learn proper research procedures and techniques. Students will have the opportunity to learn how to conduct in-depth cognitive and capacity assessments. Course credit is available.

Background Information on the Project:
Dementia is one of the most important public health issues in the U.S. and around the world. In the U.S. alone, one third of older adults die with a form of dementia. For persons with dementia (PWDs), it is imperative that they are engaged in advance care planning sooner rather than later given the difficulties that late or end-stage PWDs face in communicating their care preferences and needs. ACP is a process that helps patients and families to think and discuss about their values and preferences about their future healthcare needs, and how decisions should be made in the event that patients are unable to make decisions themselves. By engaging in discussion, patients and families are encouraged put their preferences in writing, and share these documents with healthcare providers. Advance care planning has been shown to be an effective strategy for high quality palliative care. However, our recent systematic review found that there is inadequate advance care planning among PWDs as well as few evidence-based interventions that target and involve PWDs directly in advance care planning discussions (e.g., we found only 5 published intervention studies). Our project will fill this critical gap and need for evidence-based interventions to promote advance care planning and quality of life of the growing number of persons with dementia and their families.


Minimum requirements include:

(1) Having taken at least one course either on research methods, or statistics
(2) Critical thinking skills and a willingness and ability to learn
(3) Interest in working with research participants (persons with dementia, older adults, an clinicians)
(4) Attention to detail
(5) History of academic success, preference given to GPA>3.5
(6) Commit to 5-10 hours week for at least 1 semester

Project Timeline

This project started in 2019, and will continue until end of 2020. Currently, we finished the first phase of the study (recruiting and interviewing patients for cognitive interviews). We plan to start the second phase of the study, pre/post evaluation of our ACP intervention, in late summer or fall of 2020.


Responsibilities may include: review of literature, scheduling participant interviews, participant assessment, data entry, qualitative data transcription, and assistance with report writing.

Typical Time Commitment
10 hours / week
Desired Length of Commitment
Summer or Fall Semester


The Office of Undergraduate Research recommends that you attend an info session or advising before contacting faculty members or project contacts about research opportunities. We'll cover the steps to get involved, tips for contacting faculty, funding possibilities, and options for course credit. Once you have attended an Office of Undergraduate Research info session or spoken to an advisor, you can use the "Who to contact" details for this project to get in touch with the project leader and express your interest in getting involved.

Have you tried contacting professors and need more help? Schedule an appointment for additional support.