Primary care providers routinely evaluate older adults and are thus in a position to first detect symptoms and signs of Alzheimer disease. In urban areas, diagnostic or management difficulties may be referred to specialists; however, in rural areas, specialists may not be available. The Clinician Partners Program (CPP) was initiated to enhance rural health providers’ ability in the diagnosis of dementia and care, and to increase research recruitment into dementia research studies of participants from rural communities.Methods
The CPP is a 3-day “miniresidency” of didactic, observational, and skill-based teaching techniques. Participants completed pretests and posttests evaluating dementia knowledge, confidence in providing care, and practice behaviors.Results
Between 2000 and 2009, 146 health care professionals with a mean age of 45.7±10.8 years attended the CPP; 79.2% were white, 58.2% were women, and 58% of participants had been in practice for more than 10 years. Posttests showed an improvement in knowledge and confidence for diagnosis and treatment and increased the use of dementia screening tools. Rural research participation in an urban Alzheimer Disease Research Center increased 52% over the pre-CPP period.Conclusions
The following primary goals were accomplished: increased knowledge and confidence, changed practice habits, and enhanced research recruitment. Educational programs such as the CPP may be beneficial for increasing access to accurate diagnoses and appropriate treatment for Alzheimer disease while also enhancing research participation.