Kara B. Dassel, PhD
  • Associate Professor (Clinical), College Of Nursing

Research Statement

I have had the unique opportunity of studying cognitive aging from an interdisciplinary background in Gerontology. This experience has allowed me to view neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) from biological, psychological, public health, public policy, and health care perspectives. This specialized training also provides a deep understanding and appreciation of how ADRD has deleterious consequences on the individual, their primary caregiver, additional family members, and society at-large. My research as addressed diagnostic indicators, functional outcomes, caregiver health outcome, and most recently end-of-life care planning associated with ADRD.

My research over the past 5 years has resulted in the creation and validation of an end-of-life planning guide known as the LEAD Guide (Life-Planning in Early Alzheimer’s and Dementia; Dassel, Utz, Supiano, Bybee, & Iacob, 2019). Our first study examined EOL care preferences based on hypothetical disease scenario in large national sample of older adults (Dassel, Utz, Supiano, McGee & Latimer, 2018). We received funding from the University of Utah Center on Aging to conduct this study. In this study we found that EOL preferences do differ between hypothetical death scenarios with various death trajectories; gradual (Alzheimer’s disease), intermittent (congestive heart failure), and acute (pancreatic cancer). Our second study examined values and preferences between hypothetical disease scenarios and found that a person’s values do influence preferences across diseases and therefore should be included in advance care planning discussions (Supiano, McGee, Dassel, & Utz, 2017). Our most recent work (Dassel, Utz, Supiano, Bybee, & Iacob, 2019), which was funded by the Dick and Timmy Burton Foundation, outlines the psychometric development of a dementia-focused EOL planning guide that includes patient values and preferences as well as one’s wishes across the spectrum of dementia.

In regards to educational research, as Co-I of the Utah Geriatrics Education Consortium (UGEC), I have led the development and evaluation of “ADRD Best Practices in Long-Term Care Settings” online training for informal and formal caregivers, hosted of 8 dementia caregiver educational conferences across the State of Utah (in rural and urban communities), quarterly educational “Fireside Chats” with our long-term care services and support partners focused on the 4Ms of Age-Friendly Health Care (visit https://utahgwep.org to access the LEAD Guide and online training programs).

 

Presentations

  • “Evolution of ADRD Online Training Modules”. Utah Geriatric Education Consortium Retreat. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 08/09/2021.
  • “LEADing Dementia EOL Care Discussions”. NICHE: Nurses Improving Care for Health- system Elders. National Webinar. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 11/21/2019.
  • Dassel, K., Felsted, K., & Eaton, J. (November, 2019). The influence of revision an online gerontology program on the student experience. Paper presentation at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, Austin, Texas. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 11/15/2019.
  • Dassel, K., Supiano, K., Utz, R., Bybee, S., & Iacob, E. (November, 2019). The LEAD Guide: Life-Planning in Early Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Paper presentation at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, Austin, Texas. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 11/15/2019.
  • Dassel, K., Rupper, R., Supiano, K., Andersen, T., Butler, J., Telonidis, J., & Edelman, L. (November, 2019) Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program: Educational Outcomes of Dementia Caregiver Conferences in Rural Utah. Poster presentation at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, Austin, Texas. Poster, Presented, 11/15/2019.
  • “Prevention and Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias”. Alzheimer’s Association Early-Stage Support Group. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 07/22/2019.
  • “Survey Design: Development of an End-of-Life Planning Tool.” NURS 7028: Quantitative Methods II. University of Utah. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 06/03/2019.
  • Dassel, K., Edelman, L., Butler, J., & Telonidis, J. (2019, May). Evaluation of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia online training modules. Poster presentation. Neurocognitive Research Conference. University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah. Poster, Presented, 05/01/2019.
  • “Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD): Online Training”. Spreading Success: A Multi-State Virtual Learning Summit for Long-Term Care Stakeholders Webinar. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 04/05/2019.
  • Clayton, M., Iacob, E., Caserta, M., Utz, R., Towsley, G., Supiano, K., Fuhrmann, H., Eaton, J., & Dassel, K. (2019, April). Live hospice discharge: Outliving hospice eligibility. Poster presentation for the annual meeting of the Western Institute of Nursing, San Diego, CA. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 04/01/2019.
  • Supiano, K., Dassel, K., Utz, R., & Bybee, S. (2019, April). Development of an end-of-life planning tool specific to persons with dementia. Paper presentation at the annual meeting of the Utah Aging Alliance, West Valley City, Utah. Presentation, Presented, 04/01/2019.
  • Flattes, V., Dassel, K., & Edelman, L. (2018, May). Development of a novel post-acute/long-term care certificate. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society, Orlando, FL. Poster, Presented, 05/04/2018.
  • Dassel, K. B., Utz, R., Supiano, K., McGee, N., & Latimer, S. The Influence of Death Trajectories on End-of-Life Care Preferences. Gerontological Society of America. New Orleans, LA. November 2016. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 11/19/2016.
  • Marcus, R., LaStayo, P., Edelman, L., Dassel, K., Goding, A., & Perkins, R. Using an iPad Application to Improve Older Adults’ Eccentric Control of Simple Movements. Gerontological Society of America. New Orleans, LA. November 2016. Poster, Presented, 11/19/2016.
  • Wan, N., Dassel, K., Edelman, L., Baraghoshi, D., Towsley, G., Terrill, A., Reblin, M., & Farrell, T. Interactions between Life-Space and Quality of Life in Spousal Dyads Coping with Chronic Conditions. Gerontological Society of America. New Orleans, LA. November 2016. Poster, Presented, 11/19/2016.
  • Supiano, K., Talebreza, S., Towsley, G., & Dassel, K. Understanding Goals of Care. University of Utah Center on Aging Research Retreat. Salt Lake City, UT. April 2016. Invited Talk/Keynote, Presented, 04/21/2016.
  • McGee, N. Supiano, K., & Dassel, K. "Older Adults' Perspectives on End of Life Wishes: Does the Disease Matter?" University of Utah Center on Aging Research Retreat. Salt Lake City, UT. April 2016. Poster, Presented, 04/21/2016.
  • Dassel, K., Supiano, K., Utz, R., Battin, M., McGee, N., & Latimer, S. The Influence of Death Trajectories on End-of-Life Care Preferences. University of Utah Center on Aging Research Retreat. Salt Lake City, UT. April 2016. Poster, Presented, 04/21/2016.
  • Perkins, R., Edelman, L., Dassel, K., Towsley, G., & Felsted, K. Yoga for Seniors: Understanding Older Adults' Beliefs and Barriers to Participation. Western Institute of Nursing Conference. Anaheim: CA. April 2016. Poster, Presented, 04/12/2016.
  • Dassel, K. & Eaton, J. Navigating the Future of Gerontology Education: Curriculum Mapping to the AGHE Competencies. Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. Long Beach, CA. March 2016. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 03/02/2016.
  • Hughes, J., Manning, L., Downer, B., McMullen, T., Vancleave, J., & Dassel, K. Learning is a Lifelong Process: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Successful Transitions across One’s Gerontology Career. Gerontological Society of America. Orlando, FL. November 2015. Conference Paper, Refereed, Presented, 11/21/2015.
  • *Goding, A., Perkins, R., LaStayo, P., Marcus, R., Dassel, K., Sanders, N., & Edelman, L. Building Reserve: A Pilot Study of Physical Activity and Exercise in Frail Older adults. University of Utah Center on Aging Retreat, April 2015. Poster, Presented, 04/10/2015.
  • *Perkins, R., Goding, A., LaStayo, P., Marcus, R., Dassel, K., Sanders, N., & Edelman, L. Building Reserve: Physical Activity and Pre-Frail Older Adults. University of Utah Center on Aging Retreat, April 2015. Poster, Presented, 04/10/2015.
  • Mugiraneza, F., Dassel, K., Supiano, K., & Casterta, M. Assessing Alzheimer’s Awareness Among Diverse Racial and Ethnic Population Groups in Salt Lake City. Gerontological Society of America. Washington, DC. November, 2014. (Poster). Poster, Presented, 07/01/2014.
  • Dassel, K., Edelman, L., & Sanders, N. Differences in Function, Cognition, and Health Variables Based on Frailty Severity. Gerontological Society of America. Washington, DC. November, 2014. (Poster). Poster, Presented, 07/01/2014.
  • Dassel, K. “What is Alzheimer’s Disease?”, Utah Aging Alliance Spring Conference. Presentation, Presented, 04/01/2014.
  • Sanders, N., Edelman, L., & Dassel, K. Tackling the Trilogy of Falls, Frailty and Cognitive Impairment. University of Utah Center on Aging Research Retreat. Salt Lake City, UT. April 2014. (Presentation). Presentation, Presented, 03/01/2014.
  • Fauth, E., Dassel, K., Dibble, L., & Schaefer, S. Predicting Disability and Promoting Rehabilitation in Older Adults: Implications for Maintaining Cognitive and Physical Function. University of Utah Center on Aging Research Retreat. Salt Lake City, UT. April 2014. (Presentation). Presentation, Presented, 03/01/2014.
  • Dassel, K., & Carr, D.C. Spousal Caregiving and Associated Health Outcomes: Findings from the Health and Retirement Study. Gerontological Society of America. New Orleans, LA. November 2013. Poster, Presented, 11/21/2013.

Research Groups

  • RITe Group, Research Professor. College of Nursing. 08/01/2013 - present.

Grants, Contracts & Research Gifts

  • Live Patient Discharge from Hospice: Implications for Families and Hospice Staff. PI: Mardie Clayton, PhD. C-FAHR Faculty Pilot Fund. University of Utah. , 11/01/2018 - 11/01/2019. Total project budget to date: $5,021.00
  • Geriatric Workforce Education Program . PI: Linda Edelman, PhD, RN. HRSA, 07/01/2018 - 06/30/2019. Total project budget to date: $881,789.00
  • Measuring End-of-Life Care Preferences for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias. Dick and Timmy Burton Pilot Grant. PI: Kara Dassel. Co-PI(s): Katherine Supiano, PhD, LCSW, FT, Rebecca Utz, PhD, Sara Bybee, LCSW. Dick and Timmy Burton Pilot Grant. College of Nursing., 08/01/2017 - 03/31/2019. Total project budget to date: $27,074.00
  • HRSA Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program. PI: Ginette Pepper . Co-PI(s): Mark Supiano, Linda Edelman, Kara Dassel. HRSA, 08/01/2015 - 08/01/2018. Total project budget to date: $2,544,000.00
  • Online Program Development Grant . PI: Kara Dassel. Ruth Watkins Office University of Utah , 08/01/2015 - 08/31/2017. Total project budget to date: $155,000.00
  • “Interactions Between Life-Space and Quality of Life in Spousal Dyads Coping with Chronic Conditions”. PI: Lind Edelman. Co-PI(s): Neng Wan, Alexandra Terrill, Gail Towsley. C-FAHR, 06/01/2015 - 06/01/2016. Total project budget to date: $16,000.00
  • “End-of-Life Care Preferences Based on Disease Type.” . PI: Kara Dassel. Co-PI(s): Rebecca Utz, Margaret Battin, Katherine Supiano. UofU Center on Aging Pilot Funding, 04/01/2015 - 04/01/2016. Total project budget to date: $18,367.00
  • “A Feasibility Study of Prefrail Older Adults’ Willingness to Engage in a Home-Based iPad-Delivered Physical Activity Program.”. PI: Linda Edelman. College of Nursing Research Grant, 07/01/2014 - 07/01/2015. Total project budget to date: $10,000.00
  • “Health Related Quality of Life of the Frail Older Adult.” . PI: Linda Edelman. Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor’s Society Grant. , 06/01/2014 - 06/01/2015. Total project budget to date: $1,000.00

Publications

  • Dassel, K. & Butler, J., Telonidis, J., & Edelman, L. (2020). Development and evaluation of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) best care practices in long-term care online training program. Educational Gerontology. Published, 02/14/2020.
  • Dassel, K. & Flattes, V., Eaton, J., Towsley, G., Moyers, L. & Edelman, L. (2019). Development of a post-acute care/long-term care graduate certificate for doctoral Nurse Practitioner students. Geriatric Nursing. Vol. 45, 47-58. Published, 08/01/2019.
  • Ewen, H. E. & Dassel, K. B., Kahal, J. K., Robert, A. R., & Azugbene, E. (2019). Social lives and cliques in senior housing. Housing and Society. Published, 07/06/2019.
  • Dassel, K. & Utz, R., Supiano, K., Bybee, S. & Iacob, J. (2019). Development of a dementia specific end-of-life planning tool: The LEAD Guide (Life-planning in Early Alzheimer’s and Dementia). Innovation in Aging. Published, 07/01/2019.
  • *Dassel, K., & Eaton, J., & Felsted, K. (2018). Navigating the future of gerontology education: Curriculum mapping to the AGHE competencies. Journal of Gerontology & Geriatrics [Epub ahead of print, July 20th, 2018] doi: 10.1080/02701960.2018.1500908. Published, 07/20/2018.
  • *Dassel, K. (2018). Caregiving: The need for a modern paradigm. The Gerontologist, 58(4), 793- 796. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gny057. Published, 07/13/2018.
  • *#Supiano, K., McGee, N., Dassel, K., & Utz, R. (2017). Comparison of the influence of anticipated death trajectory and personal Values on end of life care preferences: A qualitative analysis. Clinical Gerontologist. [Epub ahead of print, August 17th, 2017] doi: 10.1080/07317115.2017.1365796. Published, 08/17/2017.
  • *#Mohlman, W., Dassel, K., Supiano, K., & Caserta. M. (2017). End-of-Life education and discussions with assisted living nursing assistants. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 44(6),41-48. https://doi.org/10.3928/00989134-20180327-011. Published, 08/01/2017.
  • *#Dassel, K. B., Utz, R., Supiano, K., McGee, N., & Latimer, S. (2016). The influence of hypothetical death scenarios on multi-dimensional end-of-life care preferences. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. doi: 10.1177/1049909116680990. Published, 12/01/2016.
  • *#Braden, B. B., Dassel, K. B., Bimonte-Nelson, H. A., O’Rourke, H. P., Connor, D. J. ,Moorhous, S., Sabbagh, M. N., Caselli, R. J., & Baxter, L. C. (2016). Sex and post-menopause hormone therapy effects on hippocampal volume and verbal memory. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition. (e-pub ahead of print). doi:10.1080/13825585.2016.1182962. Published, 09/01/2016.
  • *#Dassel, K. B., Carr, D. C., & Vitaliano, P. (2015). Does caring for a spouse with dementia accelerate cognitive decline? Findings from the Health and Retirement Study. The Gerontologist. Advanced online publication. Published, 11/04/2015.
  • *#Dassel, K. B., Carr, D. C., & Vitaliano, P. (2017). Does caring for a spouse with dementia accelerate cognitive decline? Findings from the Health and Retirement Study. The Gerontologist, 57(2), 227-246. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnv148. [Epub ahead of print, November 18th, 2015]. Published, 11/01/2015.
  • *#Dassel, K. B., & Carr, D. C. (2014). Does dementia caregiving accelerate frailty? Findings from the Health and Retirement Study. The Gerontologist. Advanced online publication. doi:10.1093/geront/gnu078. Accepted, 09/01/2014.
  • *#Dassel, K., Ewen, H., Carr, D., Manning, L., Leach C., & Fitzgerald, K. (2014). What can I do with a doctoral degree in gerontology? Expanding your options. Gerontology & Geriatrics Education, 35(3): 277-284. doi: 10.1080/02701960.2013.870901. Accepted, 03/01/2014.