Bridging the Gap Between Dementia Research and Clinical Practice
Individuals enrolled in dementia studies have to meet rigorous inclusion or exclusion criteria to minimize potential confounding effects that could decrease the validity of the findings. As a result, research samples are typically not representative of the broader patient population. In real-world clinical practice, many individuals at risk for developing dementia also have psychiatric and medical conditions that may increase their risk or may mask, mimic or amplify signs of dementia.
Little is currently known about how cognitive impairments such as dementia manifest themselves when an individual also suffers from other psychiatric or medical conditions, or even if standard diagnostic tools are accurate in these cases. This disconnect may result in misdiagnoses and create unnecessary burdens for individuals and society at large.
As Canada Research Chair in Adult Clinical Neuropsychology, Dr. Brandy Callahan aims to improve the diagnosis of cognitive impairments in individuals with psychiatric conditions or complex medical histories. She and her research team are working to learn more about the signs and symptoms of dementia in the presence of co-existing conditions, and will use this knowledge to pinpoint the most accurate assessment tools for clinical practice.
Callahan’s research also aims to determine whether the mechanisms and causes of dementia differ in individuals with co-existing disorders. Her findings will help to reduce misdiagnoses and identify better, disease-appropriate assessment and intervention methods. It will also improve outcomes for older adults who develop cognitive impairments and dementia while decreasing the financial burden on the health care system.