ABOUT THE STUDY
The Internet-Based Conversational Engagement Clinical Trial (I-CONECT) follows research participants over the age of 75 for about one year.
All participants receive in-home visits and brief weekly telephone calls from the study team. There is a 50% chance of receiving regular video chats.
30-minute long chats conducted 4 times a week for 6 months, then twice a week for the following 6 months
Senior-friendly video chat device is provided and participants will receive all necessary training and support for use
Participants are paired with different study team members each week for conversations on a variety of fun and engaging topics
Include physical measures, survey-taking and problem-solving tasks, equipment installation and upkeep
Approximately nine total in-home visits with study staff over the course of the study (2-3 visits at the beginning of the study, 2 visits at 6 months, and 2 visits at 12 months)
2 visits with study staff to install and pick up tech equipment (30-60 min. each)
All participants will receive a brief weekly phone call (about 15 minutes) to check in about their health and social activity
Participants at the OHSU site receive an electronic pillbox that tracks when they take a daily low-dose Vitamin C pill
Participants who are safely and comfortably able will receive brain MRI scans at the beginning of the study and at the six-month mark
Participants may be eligible to receive up to $375 in compensation
TOPICS WE TALK ABOUT
Trained study staff engage in fun conversations with participants several times a week. Different topics are covered during each week. These may include…
Jobs and Work
Arts and Crafts
Pets and Animals
To be eligible, participants must live within about an hour’s proximity from either Oregon Health & Science University, or the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus.
Adults over 75 are one of the fastest growing segments of the population. They also face the highest risk of becoming socially isolated and developing dementia. Research has shown that having a rich social network improves our health, and that people who remain active and stay engaged with others live longer. People with active social lives are also less likely to develop dementia than those who are more socially isolated.
I-CONECT is one of the few clinical trials exploring how digital face-to-face interaction affects memory and mental function in older adults who are socially isolated.
Eight years ago, Dr. Hiroko Dodge and her research team began exploring the possibility that social interaction may improve cognitive function. In her first pilot study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), her team talked with research participants using a user-friendly internet-based video chat program. The research team also tested the participants’ levels of cognitive function, including their ability to recall information. The results were encouraging.
Dr. Dodge and her team at Oregon Health & Science University have now embarked on a larger and longer study, together with the University of Michigan. The Internet-Based Conversational Engagement Clinical Trial (I-CONECT) now follows research participants for a year, video chatting with participants several times a week and using new technologies to assess cognitive function, such as electronic pillboxes that track medication adherence and iPad-based memory testing. Some participants also undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, so that researchers can observe changes in the brain over time.
The I-CONECT team is partnering with local organizations such as Meals on Wheels to help recruit socially isolated older adults for the study, as well as seeking volunteers from the community. With I-CONECT, the research team hopes to show that engaging in frequent conversation might delay the onset of dementia, and establish a foundation for future dementia-prevention trials.
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