As Director of the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC), Dr. Tsuang manages an active hub of research, clinical, and education programs for the improvement of health care in older Veterans…
…In her research, she focuses on the characterization and early identification of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies, as well as the reduction of health-care disparities in minority elders. Dr. Tsuang is concerned that the pandemic is widening digital health-care divides between white and minority Americans, which may increase race-related mental and cognitive health disparities. She is working to address these disparities using mobile-health tools and machine-learning methods.
In a study funded by the UW Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions, Dr. Tsuang is comparing pen-and-paper, telephone, online, and mobile-health assessment methods to identify the most effective, feasible, and participant-preferred way(s) of remotely assessing cognitive and mental health symptoms in older black Americans. Dr. Tsuang anticipates enrolling 9 participants by the end of May.
Dr. Tsuang has also applied National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded machine-learning methods in VA’s electronic health-record system to identify individuals who are at high risk for developing dementia. In this work, she has found differences in health risk factors between white and black Americans, higher rates of underdiagnosis for blacks, and evidence that this method can establish risk scores to improve the diagnosis of dementia in black Americans. She is preparing an R01 submission with SIBCR’s assistance to validate the model, perform related focus groups in blacks, and explore future implementation of a dementia-identification workflow in primary-care settings. Her goal is to improve the diagnosis and delivery of cognitive and mental health services in ethnic-minority elders.
Dr. Tsuang’s work is funded by the UW, NIH, and VISN-20/GRECC Clinical Demonstration Projects