Dr. Suchy-Dicey, Assistant Professor in WSU’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, and Dr. Celestina Barbosa-Leiker of WSU’s College of Nursing have been awarded $1.7 million for a 3-year study exploring how cognitive function in Native Americans is impacted by psychological risk factors – disproportionately high levels of stress, trauma, depression, and substance use – but also by potentially protective factors such as community connectedness and improved health-related quality of life. The researchers will investigate the effect of these factors on cognitive performance by collecting psychological and cognitive data in partnership with the ongoing Strong Heart Study, a 30-year study of American Indians from 13 tribal communities across the US.
Impaired cognitive performance can indicate the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD), which is more prevalent in Native Americans than other groups. Suchy-Dicey and Barbosa-Leiker aim to gain a comprehensive understanding of key risk and protective factors to better inform strategies to prevent or alleviate ADRD in Native Americans.
This project complements another NIH-funded study headed by Dr. Suchy-Dicey – also in partnership with the Strong Health Study – examining the effects of individual resilience, social support, and alignment with Native identity on brain health and ADRD.