Horgas Receives Grant to Study Pain in Alzheimer’s Patients

Grant Recipients_MCM_8551Associate Professor Ann Horgas, PhD, RN, FAAN, has received a $249,436 Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program grant from the Florida Department of Health. The grant will fund research studying whether a prescribed medication treatment can effectively reduce pain and behavior disruptions in nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s disease.

Along with four interdisciplinary faculty members from across the UF academic health center, Horgas and her colleagues were awarded almost $850,000 to better understand the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, how to innovatively help those with it and how to integrate those communities into medical studies.

When people have dementia and are living in assisted-living and nursing home environments, they may exhibit “behavioral expressions,” said Horgas.

These negative behaviors result, in part, from of pain and include agitation, wandering and aggression, among other negative effects.

Horgas will research the effect acetaminophen has on dementia patients who take it regularly. After reducing patients’ pain, the researchers hope that patients act out less often, as behavioral expressions could be detrimental to patients or their caretakers.

If patients are more comfortable and in less pain, “they might enjoy their time more,” Horgas explained.

Grant Recipients_MCM_8535Horgas’ colleagues at UF also funded by the Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program include Dawn Bowers, Ph.D., a Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology in the College of Public Health and Health Professions and Area Head of the Neuropsychology area; Linda Cottler, Dean’s Professor and Founding Chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine; and Meredith Wicklund, M.D., an assistant professor and chief of the division of general neurology in the UF College of Medicine’s department of neurology.

The four researchers are doing independent work, but they’re collaborating, too.

“We hope that this will lead to further opportunities down the road for more research and will benefit the older people in Florida — and beyond,” Horgas said.