Gero-Psychiatry Research 

Research in Late-life Mental Disorders

Life expectancy from birth has increased dramatically in the United States, from 49 years in 1900 to 78.2 years at present. This trend has led to massive shifts in the age composition of the population, with an attendant need for more and better health services for older adults. This includes a critical need for mental health services for the elderly as it is estimated that at least 12% of older adults in the community have diagnosable mental disorders, and 30-50% of elderly individuals in medical settings have mental disorders.

Older adults experience the same broad spectrum of psychiatric problems as younger individuals, however there are some conditions which are of particular importance because of their increased frequency among older populations including neurodegenerative conditions and serious mental illnesses which are affected by the aging process.

 Research in Geropsychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry has focused on increasing understanding of treatments and health services delivery patterns that are most effective for older adults with serious mental illnesses. This has included a particular focus on late life bipolar disorder and late life schizophrenia.  Studies have been funded by the National Institute of Health and pharmaceutical companies. Interventions, Translational and Health Services research are also being conducted in populations with brain disorders, including neurodegenerative illness, epilepsy, stroke and brain tumor.

 Mental Health Effectiveness Research

This research focuses on traditionally hard-to-treat populations with serious mental illness, with a goal of helping to close the gap that exists between the relatively high levels of treatment efficacy seen in controlled clinical trials for individuals with mental disorder, and the relatively low levels of treatment effectiveness seen in underserved or disadvantaged populations. This includes populations such as individuals receiving care in the community, individuals with medical comorbidity such as diabetes, and individuals who are non-adherent or partially adherent with medications.