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2022 Advancing Research on Care and Outcome Measurements (ARCOM)

Exploring Hospital-Free Days for Trials of Patients with Dementia

Can the amount of time spent out of a hospital or care home be used to judge the impact of dementia therapies?

Scott Halpern, M.D., Ph.D., MBE
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA - United States


For many years, new interventions to promote the health and well-being of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias have been investigated. However, the lack of an accurate, practical way to assess how well an intervention may be working continues to be missing. Standard assessment tools, such as questionnaires or surveys, often are inadequate because people with dementia can have difficulty completing them.  

Recent studies have tested new ways of measuring how interventions may impact people with various diseases. Two such methods measure the time an individual spends out of the hospital (or “hospital-free days”) or out of a care home (“institution-free days”) at the end of life. But researchers are not yet clear as to whether these methods will be useful in clinical trials for dementia therapies.   

Research Plan

Dr. Scott Halpern and colleagues will examine the utility of hospital-free days and institution-free days in dementia research. Using interviews and surveys, they will explore how these prospective assessment tools are perceived by people with dementia and their family members, as well as by dementia clinicians. The interviews will be designed to elicit ideas about how to make the tools – and the clinical trial results measured by the tools – relevant to families living with dementia.  


Results from Dr. Halpern’s study will offer important insights into how clinical trials of dementia can be improved for the people who enroll in them. They could also lead to hospital-free days and institution-free days as viable, person-centered assessment tools in those trials.    

The ARCOM Grant Program was developed jointly with Leveraging an Interdisciplinary Consortium to Improve Care and Outcomes for Persons Living With Alzheimer’s and Dementia (LINC-AD).

For more information on LINC-AD please visit: https://alz.org/linc-ad

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