Our Research

Our Research

The CASI team applies methods from intervention, implementation, population health, and health policy research to close the current gaps in the care of older adults. This research most directly benefits both the current and future aging populations who will require complex care for serious illnesses. However, it will also benefit a broader community of health care providers, researchers, policymakers, patients, and their families.

Current Studies


Function and Symptom Burden among Older Adults Hospitalized for Advanced Heart Failure

Principal Investigator: Tamra Keeney, PhD, DPT

Co-Investigators: Christine Ritchie, MD, MSPH, Erin Coglianese, MD, Gregory Lewis, MD & Shanaz Sharieff, MBA, MS 

Study Coordinators: Aniyah Travis & Maimouna Sy

Study Site: Massachusetts General Hospital
Funding Source: N/A

The objective of this study is to better understand the functioning and symptom burden among older adults who are hospitalized with advanced heart failure (HF). Investigators will identify which symptoms have the highest impact on functional limitations and may also examine the associations that exist between cognitive impairment and coping styles on functioning and symptoms.

Study Status: Actively recruiting


Patient and Caregiver Perceptions of Rehabilitation Needs and Challenges among Older Adults Hospitalized for Advanced Heart Failure

Principal Investigator: Tamra Keeney, PhD, DPT

Co-Investigators: Christine Ritchie, MD, MSPH & Erin Coglianese, MD

Study Coordinators: Aniyah Travis, Jessica Ding & Maimouna Sy

Study Site: Massachusetts General Hospital
Funding Source: National Palliative Care Research Center

This is a qualitative study that aims to better understand the perceived benefits, unmet needs, and challenges of participating in rehabilitation among older adults who are hospitalized with advanced heart failure (HF).  Investigators will conduct semi-structured interviews with patients and care partners to identify themes about the experience of rehabilitation in advanced HF. Those themes will be used to inform the human-centered development of an integrative rehabilitation intervention for this population.

Study Status: Actively recruiting

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Palliative Care for Persons with Late-stage Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias and Their Caregivers: a Randomized Clinical Trial

Principal Investigator: Laura Hanson, MD, MPH

Co-Investigators: Chrissy Kistler, MD, MASc & Mark Toles, PHD, RN, FAAN

Site-PIsChristine Ritchie, MD, MSPH, Hillary Lum, MD, PhD & Greg Sachs, MD

MGH Study Coordinators: Aniyah Travis & Maimouna Sy

Study Sites: UNC-Chapel Hill, MGH, University of Colorado Denver & Indiana University
Funding Source: National Institute on Aging (NIA)

This is a multi-site randomized clinical trial of the ADRD Palliative Care (ADRD-PC) program for persons with late-stage Alzheimer's and related dementias (ADRD) and their family caregivers, triggered during hospitalization. Investigators aim to learn if this program of dementia-specific palliative care, standardized caregiver education, and transitional care is effective to reduce burdensome hospital transfers, improve symptom treatment and control, augment supportive services, and reduce nursing home transitions for patients, and to improve caregiver outcomes of communication, shared decision-making and distress.

Study Status: Actively recruiting

For more information, please see https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04948866


Effect of COVID-19 on Caregivers of Persons with Dementia

Principal Investigator: Christine Ritchie, MD, MSPH

Co-Investigators: Sarah Bannon, PhD, Brent Forester, MD, MSc & Lara Traeger, PhD

Study Coordinators: Sophie Guzikowski, Jessica Ding & Maimouna Sy

Study Sites: Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, McLean Hospital, Miami Jewish Health
Funding Source: National Institutes of Health (5R01AG050515-04)

The goal of this mixed-methods study is to engage professional/formal (CNAs, LPNs, RNs) and informal/family caregivers of persons with dementia (PWD) across the care continuum (nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in the community) to study the impact of COVID-19 on the health and well-being of PWD and their caregivers, the caregiving experience, patient behaviors, and work/family relationships. 

Study Status: Actively recruiting


Co-developing a Bio-experiential Approach and Intervention to Support the Mental Health and Well-being of Dementia Patients and Their Caregivers at Home

Principal Investigator: Christine Ritchie, MD, MSPH

Co-Investigator: Ana-Maria Vranceanu, PhD

Study Coordinators: Maimouna Sy & Elizabeth Rochon

Study Sites: National recruitment from dementia clinics and via IRB-approved ads on social media pages, newsletters, and email lists
Funding Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

This project seeks to form a collaborative effort to bring the emerging field of bio-experiential design to improving the experience of care for those living with dementia and their caregivers at home. This study will be conducted through three qualitative focus groups. 

Study Status: In preparation


Longitudinal Impact of Chronic Pain and its Management on Patient-Centered Outcomes in Older Adults

Principal Investigator: Christine Ritchie, MD, MSPH

Partners: National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago

Study Coordinators: Maimouna Sy

Study Sites: N/A (national survey)
Funding Source: National Institute on Aging (NIA)

The proposed investigation will conduct a methodologically rigorous longitudinal study to better understand and address chronic pain in older adults. 

Study Status: In preparation

Active Organizations

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National Home-based Primary Care Learning Network

Team: Christine Ritchie, MD, MSPH, Bruce Leff, MD, Orla Sheehan, MD, Jane Taylor, MBA, MHA, EdD, Naomi Gallopyn, MS & Shanaz Sharieff, MBA, MS

Partners: Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts General Hospital, UCSF, Home Centered Care Institute, American Academy of Home Care Medicine, The John A. Hartford Foundation & West Health

The National Home-Based Primary Care Learning Network is a national organization dedicated to ensuring that homebound persons receive high-quality, evidence-based medical care in their homes by creating a quality framework and measures for the field and through a coordinated program of quality improvement and applied research. 


Palliative Care Research Cooperative Group (PCRC)

Team: https://palliativecareresearch.org/who-we-are

Funding Source: National Institute of Nursing Research (Grant U2CNR014637)

The PCRC's mission is to support the conduct of high quality, effective palliative care clinical research by:

  • Supporting investigators at all levels of experience in the conduct of clinical studies

  • Conducting nationally representative, multi-institutional studies that include diverse populations;

  • Leveraging standardized data elements and a de-identified palliative care study data repository that amplifies the impact of any single study;

  • Providing methodologic resources, participant access/recruitment, and the expertise of PCRC investigators from multiple disciplines.

Completed Studies


Frailty, Rehabilitation, and Outcomes

Among Older Adults Hospitalized for COVID-19 

Principal Investigator: Tamra Keeney, PhD, DPT

Study Coordinators: Jessica Ding & Maimouna Sy

Study Site: Massachusetts General Hospital
Funding Source: N/A

Study Status: Publication under review