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2021 Pilot Awards for Global Brain Health Leaders (GBHI)

Inequities at the end-of-life in cancer and dementia: a mixed-methods study

Joni Helene D. Gilissen, Ph.D.
Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
Brussel, Belgium

Aging is the biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Aging is also a strong risk factor for most cancers. Dr. Joni Gilissen will study how healthcare use in the final 12 months of life in people that passed away from cancer differs from those who had a coincidental diagnosis of dementia. Dr. Gilissen will also study perceptions of healthcare professionals towards clinical end-of-life decision-making in individuals living with cancer and dementia. Specifically, this project will focus on lung cancer, one of the common types of cancer in older adults. Dr. Gilissen will leverage existing Medicare datasets to examine care provided in the final months of life in individuals who passed away from lung cancer and dementia between 2011 and 2016. Simultaneously, Dr. Gilissen will conduct interviews with healthcare professionals based in both the United States and Belgium to identify potential inequities in diagnosis and care towards end-of-life. If successful, the study results may address knowledge gaps towards healthcare inequities at the end-of-life in cancer and dementia.

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