Oregon Healthy Brain Research Network (OR-HBRN)

Layton Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Center and Oregon Prevention Research Center partner to create the Oregon Healthy Brain Research Network (OR-HBRN) Collaborative Center.

We are one of five collaborative centers whose collective aim is to educate and empower the nation on cognitive health.

As the Oregon Healthy Brain Research Network Collaborative Center at Oregon Health & Science University, our focus is on culturally relevant messaging to diverse communities and the implementation of two specific research projects that focus cognitive health in Oregon.

Project 1: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), cognitive impairment and caregiver modules

The aim of this project is to increase our understanding of how African Americans and other ethnic/racial groups experience memory loss and family caregiving.  We are collaborating with the Oregon Public Health Division and Aging and People with Disabilities in the analysis of data from the cognitive impairment and caregiver modules of the BRFSS statewide telephone survey.  To gather more in-depth understanding of the experiences, perspectives and needs of diverse ethnic groups, we are conducting a series of focus groups with African Americans aged 45 and older.  In subsequent years, we plan to interview Native Americans, Asians, and Latinos.   Linda Boise, PhD, MPH leads this project.

Project 2: Sharing History through Active Reminiscence and Photo-imagery (SHARP) Pilot Program

The SHARP Pilot Program targets African Americans aged 55 and over in Portland.  SHARP brings together walking, social engagement, and community memories to promote physical and cognitive health among older African Americans. SHARP uses historical images on cell phones during group walks to engage older adults in conversational reminiscence of living and working in Portland’s historically Black neighborhoods before, during, and after gentrification. At home, participants engage in memory sessions with a researcher via Skype-like technology. Participant narratives and historic neighborhood images are featured on the SHARP website to help build community awareness about healthy aging in a culturally relevant and culturally celebratory way. In this initial pilot phase, we gather participant input on how to improve the program’s feasibility and cultural relevancy. Raina Croff, PhD leads this program.

Mission and Goals

The OR-HBRN Collaborative Center’s mission is to educate and empower Oregon and the nation about improving cognitive function and maintaining cognitive health as we age to prevent or delay the onset of impairment.

In order to reach our goal of educating the public on cognitive health, advocating for healthier cognitive aging, and developing culturally relevant ways to engage people in behaviors that promote healthier cognitive aging, we plan to:

  1. Bring together local and national expertise in cognitive-related research, including cultural and medical anthropologists, social workers, and aging and dementia clinical researchers, and collaborate with community networks to deliver culturally relevant cognitive health messaging to diverse populations.
  2. Use data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) telephone survey to characterize dementia burden and prevalence among Oregon’s aging population, and by ethnic/racial and other categories to influence policy and programming around cognitive health, contribute to the State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease in Oregon, and increase national understanding of factors contributing to cognitive health disparities among underserved populations.
  3. Use BRFSS data to determine key questions concerning cognition for inclusion in national datasets that help communities, states, and the nation to track cognitive impairment burden, awareness and perception of cognitive impairment.
  4. Use the SHARP pilot programto develop a culturally relevant and culturally engaging way to help Portland area African Americans aged 55 and older initiate and sustain behaviors that lead to healthier aging.