​Project Title: Public Health Communications: Culturally Relevant Messages and Strategies to Promote Awareness about Dementia 

Principal Investigators: Jason Karlawish and Amy Jordan

Co-Investigator: Amy Bleakley

Project Coordinator: Kristin Harkins

Project Dates: 2014-2016

Cognitive impairment has arrived as a major public health issue in the United States. Approximately 13 million people care for the estimated 5 million people who have Alzheimer’s disease, at a cost of 5 billion per year. In 2005, the CDC launched the Healthy Brain Initiative. As part of this effort, CDC has provided funding to identify key issues related to communicating about cognitive health and Alzheimer’s disease. This project will design and develop prototypes for public health messaging focused on promoting cognitive health-related behaviors, with a focus on African Americans and non-Latino Whites (the most common ethnic groups in the Philadelphia area). To this end, we will:

  • Work with our Community Advisory Board, the Healthy Brain Initiative Network, and the CDC’s scientific staff and collaborators to identify opportunities to increase awareness and action, as well as to refine both our target messaging and audiences
  • Design and execute a theory-based telephone survey that will identify current knowledge, practices, attitudes, and beliefs related to cognitive health, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Create culturally-sensitive messages for a targeted audience
  • Empirically test the effectiveness of messages created for the target audience
  • Disseminate prototypical messages to public health departments and their partners


Karlawish J. Social Cognition and the Aging Brain. Annals of Internal Medicine, May 2019; 170:10, 726-727.

Jordan A, Bleakley A, Harkins K, Hailu T, Cassidy K, Hachey S, Karlawish J, “Together Make a Visit; Together Make a Plan:” Messaging to Adult Children with Concerns about a Parent’s Memory LossHealth Communication, Feb 2019; 1-12.

Stites S, Milne R, Karlawish J. Advances in Alzheimer’s imaging are changing the experience of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment and Disease Monitoring. Jan 2018, 10: 285-300

Hailu T, Cannuscio C, Dupuis R , Karlawish J. A Typical Day with Cognitive Impairment. American Journal of Public Health, 2017, 107: 927-928.