The goals of The Brain Health Study are to:
Identify the factors that help and harm brain health, including genes, lifestyle, and the environment.
Understand how certain interventions promote brain health and reduce the risk of brain-related diseases.
Target these interventions to key stages of life, when they will have significant and long-lasting impacts on brain health.
To accomplish these goals, our unique study will be divided into three phases:
PHASE 1: Pre-Pilot
Our interdisciplinary team has extensive experience working with communities on research studies. Based on this experience, we know that to be successful it is essential to address the needs and goals of residents in the communities being studied. For this reason, we focused the pre-pilot phase on building relationships with the Lakewood Ranch community and identifying community coalition members. We also surveyed adults and youth in the community, and will use the data collected to improve the design of the pilot phase.
PHASE 2: Pilot
With a strong foundation in place between the Lakewood Ranch community and our research team, we’ll then embark on a pilot study to collect brain health data through web- and phone-based surveys that will be distributed to representative samples of Lakewood Ranch residents. To develop the survey, we will conduct key informant interviews and focus groups with residents. This baseline survey will capture risk and protective factors linked to brain health across multiple domains, including biological, psychological, behavioral, cognitive, and social factors. The pilot phase will incorporate key “lessons learned” from other successful community-based projects, including the Framingham Heart Study, the Blue Zones Project, and Shape Up Somerville. The survey data collected during this phase will serve as the basis for Phase 3, which is a long-term study of brain health.
PHASE 3: Long-Term Study
Our ultimate goal is to be able gather information long term, by checking in with residents each year over a period of decades. In parallel, we will also test the efficacy of evidence-based and other promising interventions to evaluate their effects on promoting brain health. These interventions will be tailored to meet the needs of the Lakewood Ranch community. We will track the immediate and long-term efficacy and sustainability of these interventions on the individual and overall communities. We will also focus on health coaching as a means to sustain these behaviors throughout the lifespan. Thus in summary, our vision is to identify and implement lifestyle interventions at both the individual- and community-level that can make an immediate and meaningful impact on the lives of the community while simultaneously advancing the science of brain health. To accomplish this goal, we will establish a Brain Health Laboratory, where we will collaborate with local, state, national, and global brain health scholars and innovators who are interested in testing their hypotheses or validating their brain health innovations.