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C-FAHR Research Foci

The research of C-FAHR members has a common goal of identifying the ways in which the family system can operate effectively as a vehicle for promoting health and for managing chronic illnesses across time and across developmental life stages. Currently, consortium members are conducting research related to five broad research topics, and are coming together around these topics to develop innovative and interdisciplinary training that has the potential to transform the role of the family in health policy and health care encounters.

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Early-Life Familial Contexts & Health

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Families Managing Chronic Conditions

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Family History and Shared Risk/Resilience

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Statistical Methods to Study Families & Health

(dynamical systems, epigenetics, longitudinal change)

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Application of Family-Centered Approaches to Health Care Practice & Policy

 Current News & Research

Supporting Patients and Their Families for Better Rehabilitation Outcomes

Injury and illness not only affect the patient, but the family as well. This is particularly true for chronic, disabling conditions like stroke, where there may be lasting physical, cognitive, and emotional changes that can affect everything from participating in valued activities to forming and maintaining relationships. Informal family caregivers are vital in supporting patients following discharge home and can significantly affect long-term patient outcomes. Yet training and support for family caregivers is lacking, often leaving them feeling overwhelmed and unprepared. To optimize rehabilitation, recovery, and community reintegration, our research focuses on patients and their family caregivers as targets for intervention. More specifically, we are using novel dyadic (couples-based) approaches to harness existing strengths in family relationships while also supporting the unique needs of patients and family caregivers.

Alexandra Terrill (Department of Occupational & Recreational Therapies)

U of U Faculty Obtain Funding to Develop and Test a Web-Based Virtual Coaching Application for Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Caregivers to the 5.7 million persons in the United States with Alzheimer’s Disease are susceptible to adverse physical and mental health outcomes, given the often prolonged and challenging care and support they provide to patients in their homes and community.  Respite (defined as “time away from caregiving”) is the most often requested service by caregivers; however, prior research has suggested its intended benefits are only best achieved when family caregivers spend that time away doing what they most desire and need to do – as opposed to using the time in a way they don’t find helpful in alleviating the stress associated with caregiving. This is often best achieved by planning ahead – something many caregivers have a difficult time doing, given the daily demands of their role.

The National Institute on Aging recently awarded a 5-year grant to Drs. Rebecca Utz (Sociology Department), Michael Caserta (Gerontology Interdisciplinary Program), and Alexandra Terrill (Department of Occupational & Recreational Therapies) to design and test a web-based “virtual coach” to help Alzheimer’s caregivers make effective use of respite time employing guided planning and goal-setting strategies. This type of online-delivered intervention is inherently scalable to real world practice and is expected to help caregivers maintain their overall well-being over time, so they can continue providing the estimated 18.4 billion hours of unpaid care with an annual economic value of $232 billion.

This project will use a community-engaged design and evaluation process involving campus-wide collaborations among faculty from the Colleges of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Nursing, and Health, the Collaboration & Engagement Team within the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences, the Genetic Science Learning Center, and Utah Telehealth, as well as community partners consisting of the Utah Coalition of Caregiver Support, Community Faces of Utah, the Utah Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center.




Last Updated: 2/4/19