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International Strategies for


Age-Related Cognitive Decline in Indigenous Peoples: Developing International Strategies to Improve Diagnosis and Care

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CIHR Planning Grants: First Nations, Inuit, or Métis Planning Activities - 2013-02-15
Reference Number: 129605

Indigenous Health Research Development Program Small Grants


Kristen Jacklin (NPI), Wayne Warry, Karen Pitawanakwat, Jennifer Walker, Marlene Nose, Laura Warren, J. Neil Henderson, Carson Henderson, Leon Flicker, Dina Loguidice, John Price, Cath Josif, Ros Malay, Kate Smith

Karen, Laura, and Jennifer in Perth.

Our planning grant brought together researchers and knowledge users who are active in the field of aging, dementia and cognitive impairment research and who work with Indigenous populations in Canada, the United States and Australia. The team spent five days in Western Australia participating in research meetings and community visits. Knowledge users included community health workers, health and program directors and senior policy staff.


The planning grant allowed for us to hold meetings in March 2014 in Australia to engage in discussions concerning priorities for Indigenous dementia  research, early lessons learned in each country, and the development of best practice research models to address health service needs for age-related dementias in Indigenous peoples. We were especially interested in a cognitive screening tool developed by researchers in Australia for use with Aboriginal people in the Kimberly region – The Kimberly Indigenous Cognitive Assessment (KICA). To this end, we held meetings that were focused on the process of developing culturally appropriate screening and clinical care interventions for cognitive impairment in Indigenous peoples in Canada based on the KICA project. Meetings took place over five days in Perth at the Western Australia Centre for Health & Ageing; in Broome at the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service which included meetings with the Kimberly Aged Care Services team; and in the remote Aboriginal community of Looma.


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Ros and Karen at Camballin Crossing

The planning grant funds were supplemented with a $10,000 grant from the Indigenous Health Research Development Program through a proposal driven process and by in-kind funds from the Western Australia Centre for Health and Aging to cover the costs associated with travel for the Australia researchers. These funds along with the CIHR planning grant facilitated the inclusion of Indigenous community partners from Canada and Australia, an Indigenous Ph.D. student from Canada and the faculty researchers. Our original research team consisted of Kristen Jacklin (CAN), Wayne Warry (CAN), Karen Pitawankwat (CAN), Marlene Nose (CAN), Neil Henderson (USA), Carson Henderson (USA), Leon Flicker (AU), Dina LoGiudice (AU) and John Price (AU). With additional funding through the Indigenous Health Research Development Fund we were able to add an additional Indigenous investigator: Jennifer Walker (CAN), and Indigenous student Laura Warren (CAN). The Australian team added community health workers Cath Josif and Ros Malay to the team and PhD researcher Kate Smith.

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Canadian researchers travelled from Perth, to Broome, to Looma, connecting with colleagues and partners along the way.

The support from the planning grant for international travel to Australia facilitated the building of trust and rapport between the teams. During the meetings, and subsequent to the meetings, information including study protocols has been shared freely between the researchers. The Australian team who developed the KICA shared all of their development work and resources with the Canadian team. We currently maintain a shared dropbox to continue in this spirit. The community of researchers involved in this planning grant agreed to meet again by teleconference at regular intervals and at an international conference in Thailand (October 2015) to continue the planning process. Since the initial visit to Australia we have held five teleconferences and have held formal in person meetings at two international conferences.


We met our objective for this planning grant which was the establishment of an international collaborative research partnership between Canada, Australia and the United States to address Indigenous dementia care needs and commitment to a project to specifically address the need for a culturally appropriate cognitive screening tool for use in Indigenous populations in Canada. The NPI (Jacklin) and other original project researchers (Walker, Warry, Warren, Pitawanakwat) are all involved in the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging and as a part of this have been actively pursuing community-based methods to modify the KICA for use in seven Anishinaabe communities on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. We have been able to bring additional researchers into the project from Alberta (Lynden Crowshoe), Ontario (Brock Pitawanakwat and Janet McElhaney) and Saskatchewan (Carrie Bourassa and Megan O’Connel) to address the need for a Canadian strategy. The team has just completed the adaptation of the KICA for the Manitoulin Island communities and will be conducting a pilot to refine the tool in the fall of 2016. The international team will be applying for a CIHR grant to undertake a validation and scaling up research project also in the fall of 2016.

Additional Outcomes

The relationship development process has also supported secondary outcomes such as joint conference sessions organized by the international leads.


The first was organized by the Australian team with participation from Canadian and US members “Challenges of Ageing in Indigenous Communities” at the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics in Chiang Mai, Thailand, October 2015.


The second was organized by the Canadian team, also with participation from the Australian and US members: “International Perspectives on Dementia and Aging in Indigenous Populations” and was highlighted as a Featured Research Session at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, July 25th, 2016, Toronto, Ontario.

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The original research team (pictured above) continues to meet and collaborate.

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