Dementia symptoms (cognition, behavior, function)

Dementia symptoms (cognition, behavior, function)

Debra Schutte

Professor, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Director of the BioPhysical Laboratory


Dementia symptoms (cognition, behavior, function)

The long-term goal of my research is to decrease the prevalence and impact of behavioral symptoms and improve quality of life in persons with Alzheimer disease through the development of tailored non-pharmacologic interventions. To accomplish this long-term goal, we need to learn more about factors that influence these symptoms such as individual characteristics (genes, hearing) and the environment (physical and social).

Program of Research

Debra L. Schutte PhD, RN, Associate Professor at Wayne State University, has focused her program of research on examining genetic and environmental factors that influence the cognitive, behavioral, and functional symptoms of Alzheimer disease, particularly in individualized persons with dementia. She has extensive experience in the incorporation of genetic markers in nursing research.

Dr. Schutte’s most recent efforts have extended her research into a rural community setting, co-leading the Community-based Cooperative for Studies Across Generations (CoSAGE) Project. This long-term community-based project employs a community based participatory research approach to achieve a vision of building a sustainable and portable model of a community-academic partnership that promotes wellness and quality of life for community partners and that fosters scholarship and vitality for academic partners. The mission of CoSAGE is to develop a sustainable community-based and community-driven health research project. The long-term goals of CoSAGE are to discover genetic, lifestyle and environmental risk factors that contribute to common health-related conditions within the partner community, to translate the new knowledge into health innovations for the community, and to transport new knowledge and health innovations to the broader world population.

Dr. Schutte is widely published on symptoms in persons with dementia as well the potential role of genes in many phenomena for which nurses intervene. In addition her writings advocate for the need to examine these factors in nursing research in order to understand the biologic mechanism of symptoms as a foundation for tailored or individualized non-pharmacologic interventions.

Current Research

  • Hearing, Genetics and Agitation in People with Dementia in a Rural Isolated Community: A Feasibility Study. Principal Investigator: Debra Schutte, PhD, RN.
  • Community-based Cooperative for Studies Across Generations (CoSAGE). Principal Investigator: Debra Schutte, PhD, RN.

Populations of interests

  •  Older Adults

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