Category: Maximizing Quality of Life

19 - Perceptions Of Acceptability And Feasibility Of Older Adult Distress Screening Among Health Professionals

The proportion of older adults, those 65 years of age or older, in the United States is expected to almost double by 2050 to about 83.7 million. Due to such projections, there is a need to better assess the mental health of this aging population. Namely, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in five older adults suffer from mental and/or neurological disorders. Currently, the health system often fails them with respect to diagnosis and treatment because older adults have distinct risk and protective factors when compared to younger counterparts, including higher risk for loneliness and feelings of bereavement. Thus, the gap lies within the need for a distress screening tool specific in meeting the mental health needs of older adults. As a part of a Capstone MPH research-culminating project, the primary author sought to understand this issue with research founded upon the belief that health care workers, administrators and those in direct contact with older adults provide important insight on identifying distress amidst the flow of clinical practice. To accomplish this goal, the primary author will be conducting 8-10 one-to-one qualitative interviews of health care workers’ to evaluate understanding of distress screening policy, distress presentation in older adults, distress screening specific to older adults and health care workers’ perceived self efficacy and barriers to administering distress screening tools. This study will be conducted February – April 2018 and has received IRB approval. The poster presentation will speak to the qualitative review of the interviews of individuals in varying occupational capacities. Preliminary interview findings of an Emergency Department nurse suggest that a distress-screening tool for older adults, while it may face minimal time and staffing barriers, will have large benefits in detecting distress descriptors, such as feelings of loneliness and loss, and may help to reduce reoccurring hospital visits among older adults. This study will contribute to the knowledge and understanding of distress screening recommendations for older adults in the health care setting, thus providing important data that will expectantly influence policy regarding distress-screening tools for older adults.


Alicia Mangin

Alicia Mangin, MPH (c)
Arcadia University
Warrington, Pennsylvania

Alicia Mangin, MPH (c), has a bachelor degree in Biobehavioral Health from the The Pennsylvania State University at University Park. Alicia Mangin is also currently receiving a Master of Public Health from Arcadia University in research centered around psychological distress in older adults and perceptions' of distress screening recommendations for older adults. Prior to beginning the MPH program at Arcadia University, Alicia Mangin received her Emergency Medical Technician license and worked in the Emergency Department as an Emergency Room Technician.

Margaret L. Longacre

Assistant Professor
Arcadia University
Glenside, Pennsylvania

Margaret Longacre, Ph.D., has a doctoral degree in Health Policy from the University of the Sciences (Philadelphia, PA). Dr. Longacre also received an M.S. in Health Education from Arcadia University and a B.A. in Psychology from Wake Forest University. Her doctoral dissertation and subsequent research interest has revolved around informal or family caregiving, including understanding health system impacts.

Prior to joining the faculty at Arcadia University, Dr. Longacre was the Director of Research at the Cancer Support Community (CSC). At CSC, Dr. Longacre led several caregiving research initiatives, including 1) the Cancer Experience Registry: Caregivers to understand the social and emotional experiences of informal caregivers, and 2) a study to develop and validate a distress screening and referral program for cancer caregivers. She was also a co-author of a national report on cancer caregiving (“Cancer Caregiving in the U.S.: An Intense, Episodic and Challenging Care Experience”) with the National Alliance for Caregiving and the National Cancer Institute. In addition, she also led several analyses to understand patient perception of value in cancer care as well as access to services.

Prior employment also included working at Fox Chase Cancer Center (FCCC) under the direction and mentoring of Dr. Carolyn Fang, Co-Leader of the Cancer Prevention and Control program. While at FCCC, Dr. Longacre initiated a study to identify the information needs and psychosocial experiences of family caregivers for head and neck cancer patients. She has several publications on informal caregiving, including demonstrating relevance to broader health system and policy issues.