AUSTIN, Texas—A clinical nurse specialist and Ph.D. student at The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing has received a three-year, $93,000 fellowship award from the National Institutes of Health for research on improving health of caregivers for people with dementia.
Cherie Simpson was awarded the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Fellowship for research in emerging areas of health care.
"The long-term objective of the study is to improve the health of informal caregivers of persons with dementia so they are able to successfully continue providing care," said Simpson, adding that informal caregivers include family members, friends and even neighbors in some cases.
"This is important research because the demand for informal caregiving in this area will continue to grow as our population ages. Our society is dependent on the success of informal caregiving."
Simpson will be looking at the relationship of sleep quality, depression and stress.
"The experience of caregiving is stressful and often results in negative outcomes for the caregiver such as depression or physical decline," she said. "If the caregiver becomes unable to provide help, the person with dementia may have to be institutionalized.
"Caregivers need resources to meet the demands of caregiving. Adequate sleep and a sense of control are necessities. The relevance of the research is the alignment with two major public health issues – caregiving and sleep quality."
Dr. Patricia Carter, assistant dean of student and clinical affairs at the School of Nursing, said Simpson’s research would help to describe the impact of sleep, stress and depression on the dementia caregiving experience.
"The knowledge will be critical to the design of interventions for this vulnerable population of family caregivers," Carter said. "We are very proud of Ms. Simpson for receiving this prestigious and highly competitive national award."
For more information contact: Nancy Neff, School of Nursing, 512-471-6504.