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Nursing researchers receive $1.4 million to study informal caregiving networks of adults with dementia
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Faculty members from the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing are teaming together to study the informal caregiving networks of older adults with dementia, with the goal of developing an interactive digital tool to capture the full scope of caregiving beyond the experience of primary caregivers.

The National Institute on Aging is supporting the study with a $1.4 million R56 grant.

Mi-Kyung Song

Mi-Kyung Song, PhD, RN, FAAN,

“We aim to shift the focus of caregiving research from the dominant primary caregiver-older adult relationship to more realistic caregiving situations in which collaboration must occur among many individuals,” says Emory School of Nursing professor Mi-Kyung Song, PhD, RN, FAAN, who is leading the research alongside University of Pittsburgh professor Annette DeVito Dabbs, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN. “Previous research points to a substantial sharing of activities among multiple caregivers. However, in both clinical and research settings, we typically do not assess who is involved in caregiving other than the primary caregiver, and what role these individuals play.”

Song and DeVito Dabbs anticipate the current research will inform the development of CareNet, an interactive digital tool with an embedded social network survey. They envision that CareNet will be used by clinicians and researchers to gain insight into the full range of caregiving networks.

“Our hope and expectation is that this tool will help provide a more comprehensive perspective of informal caregiving to help health care professionals as they guide patients and caregivers,” DeVito Dabbs says. “The ultimate goal is to support and provide the best care possible for older adults with dementia and their caregivers.” 

Annette DeVito Dabbs

Annette DeVito Dabbs, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN

The research team also includes Sudeshna Paul, PhD, MS, of the Emory School of Nursing; Mary Beth Happ, PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA, of The Ohio State University College of Nursing; and Joanna Mundy, PhD, Jay Varner, MS, and Sara Palmer, MA, of the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. 

Note: This research is supported by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R56AG083167. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

About the School of Nursing

As one of the nation's top nursing schools, the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University is committed to educating visionary nurse leaders and scholars. Ranked the No. 1 master's, No. 3 BSN, and No. 6 DNP programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, the school is recognized as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League of Nursing. The school offers undergraduate, master’s, doctoral and non-degree programs, bringing together cutting-edge resources, distinguished faculty, top clinical experiences, and access to leading health care partners to shape the future of nursing and impact the world's health and well-being. Learn more at

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