The National Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has funded a joint project between The University of Alabama and Florida International University to test the efficacy of a web and mobile application designed for dementia caregivers.

Nicole Ruggiano, associate professor of social work, helped create “CareHeroes,” a multi-function app designed to improve communication between physicians providing dementia care and caregivers, while working at FIU. The app also aims to decrease caregiver burden and depression symptoms, which are often experienced because of the stress of caregiving.

The app’s developers completed a small feasibility study in Miami three years ago, and Ruggiano has tested a beta version of the CareHeroes in rural areas in Alabama. Researchers found that caregivers used the app’s features successfully, improved communication with physicians, and were eager to fully integrate the app and its features into their care routines.

The two-year, $300,000 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality grant will allow Ruggiano and fellow lead investigator Ellen Brown, FIU associate professor of nursing, to use the app to study self-efficacy, confidence, and knowledge of dementia in more than 60 participants between program sites in Alabama and Miami.

Read more in UA News.