Trajectories of functional ability over the life course: a conceptual model of the interaction of stressor-induced functional loss and resilience.
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Understanding the factors that influence functional ability over the life course is integral to identifying clinical and public health policies to facilitate successful aging. The World Health Organization has advocated a conceptual framework to clarify the policy discussion. We have sought to translate this general framework into an explicit system dynamics model of the interaction of physiological loss, stressors and endogenous responses to produce a familiar variety of trajectories of functional ability over the life courses. Simulation experiments were implemented for both a 30-month duration with only one major stressor; and for the life course with an initial major stressor and subsequent stressors determined by the level of functional ability. For both contexts, variations in the few parameters in the scenarios led to a realistic range of trajectories of function over time.
Published Version (Please cite this version)
Matchar, David B, John P Ansah, Victoria Koh and Heather E Whitson (2018). Trajectories of functional ability over the life course: a conceptual model of the interaction of stressor-induced functional loss and resilience. System dynamics review, 34(4). pp. 481–502. 10.1002/sdr.1611 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/22797.
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My research relates to clinical practice improvement - from the development of clinical policies to their implementation in real world clinical settings. Most recently my major content focus has been cerebrovascular disease. Other major clinical areas in which I work include the range of disabling neurological conditions, cardiovascular disease, and cancer prevention.
Notable features of my work are: (1) reliance on analytic strategies such as meta-analysis, simulation, decision analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis; (2) a balancing of methodological rigor the needs of medical professionals; and (3) dependence on interdisciplinary groups of experts.
This approach is best illustrated by the Stroke Prevention Patient Outcome Research Team (PORT), for which I served as principal investigator. Funded by the AHCPR, the PORT involved 35 investigators at 13 institutions. The Stroke PORT has been highly productive and has led to a stroke prevention project funded as a public/private partnership by the AHCPR and DuPont Pharma, the Managing Anticoagulation Services Trial (MAST). MAST is a practice improvement trial in 6 managed care organizations, focussing on optimizing anticoagulation for individuals with atrial fibrillation.
I serve as consultant in the general area of analytic strategies for clinical policy development, as well as for specific projects related to stroke (e.g., acute stroke treatment, management of atrial fibrillation, and use of carotid endarterectomy.) I have worked with AHCPR (now AHRQ), ACP, AHA, AAN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NSA, WHO, and several pharmaceutical companies.
Key Words: clinical policy, disease management, stroke, decision analysis, clinical guidelines
Dr. Whitson's research is focused on improving care options and resilience for people with multiple chronic conditions. In particular, she has interest and expertise related to the link between age-related changes in the eye and brain (e.g., How does late-life vision loss impact the aging brain or cognitive outcomes? Is Alzheimer's disease associated with distinctive changes in the retina, and could such changes help diagnose Alzheimer's disease early in its course?). Dr. Whitson leads a collaborative Alzheimer's Disease initiative that brings together investigators from Duke University and the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, with a bold vision to transform dementia research and care across Eastern North Carolina. Dr. Whitson is also interested in improving health services to better meet the needs of medically complex patients. Within the Duke Aging Center, she leads research efforts aimed at promoting resilience to late-life stressors (e.g., surgery, sensory loss, infection). She has developed a novel rehabilitation model for people with co-existing vision and cognitive deficits, and she is part of a inter-disciplinary team seeking to improve peri-operative outcomes for frail or at-risk seniors who must undergo surgery. As a co-leader of a national resilience collaborative, she seeks to better understand the biological and psychological factors that determine how well we "bounce back" after health stressors.
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