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JEC Clinical Director Piersol’s Primary Research Study Featured by Elderbranch


“Factors Influencing Quality of Life for At-Home Dementia Patients,” an article about a paper co-authored by Jefferson Elder Care Director Catherine Verrier Piersol, PhD, OTR/L, was published by Elderbranch, a resource for families seeking senior care providers.

The paper on which the article focuses is titled “Correlates of Quality of Life for Individuals with Dementia Living at Home: The Role of Home Environment, Caregiver, and Patient-related Characteristics.” Dr. Piersol coauthored this with four other researchers including primary author Dr. Laura N. Gitlin, who was interviewed for the Elderbranch article.

“I used the data from this study for my dissertation to examine how caregivers appraise the functional ability of their family member with dementia,” shares Dr. Piersol. “Caregiver perception of functional ability is an essential element to daily care decisions. I wrote three separate papers on the topic ‘Examining caregiver appraisal of functional capacity in family members with dementia’ to further explore this process with the intent to better understand how we can improve caregiver training and education.”

In her first paper, Piersol examined construct validity and interrater reliability of the Functional Capacity Card Sort (FCCS), a tool she and colleague E. Adel Herge, OTD, OTR/L, designed to measure subjective caregiver appraisal.

The other two papers demonstrate the utility of the FCCS to assess caregiver appraisal and interpret level of estimation, which can guide the therapeutic approach and treatment plan by an occupational therapist or other health professional.

“Further understanding of caregiver appraisal and associated factors is critical to providing best practice in dementia care,” says Piersol. “This tool offers occupational therapists a mechanism to effectively assess caregiver estimation of function, which promotes a customized approach to family education and training, thus reducing safety risks and promoting care that meets the capacities of the patient.” Piersol plans to seek funding to complete additional validity and reliability testing of the FCCS.