UF neurologist, communication scientist co-lead study to improve delivery of dementia diagnoses

Melissa Armstrong, M.D. (left) and Carma Bylund, Ph.D. (right)
Melissa Armstrong, M.D. (left) and Carma Bylund, Ph.D. (right)

University of Florida neurologist Melissa Armstrong, M.D., and UF communication scientist Carma Bylund, Ph.D., have been awarded a $375,000 grant to study how people with dementia, their family members and clinicians experience the delivery of such a diagnosis — what went well and what did not.

Given a current lack of standards about how and when dementia diagnoses are communicated, the three-year consortium grant through the Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program of the Florida Department of Health aims to develop proposed best-practice standards for how to give a diagnosis of dementia to patients and families. The proposed best-practice standards will take into account the views of patients with memory/thinking problems, families and healthcare providers.

While current research suggests that people living with memory and thinking problems and their families want to know what’s wrong and have a diagnosis, doctors may not feel confident in the diagnosis or that a diagnosis would change treatment for the patient.

Armstrong, an associate professor in the department of neurology in UF’s College of Medicine, and Bylund, an expert in healthcare communication and associate professor in the department of public relations in UF’s College of Journalism and Communications, will examine this issue by interviewing people with memory/thinking problems, family members and clinicians to learn about the challenges in receiving and giving a diagnosis of dementia.