Discovery kit used in the research to identify the barriers to Alzheimer's diagnosis. Discovery kit used in the research to identify the barriers to Alzheimer's diagnosis.
PFIZER, JOHNSON & JOHNSON

Identifying Barriers to Alzheimer's Diagnosis

Skills Used
Research & Strategy

Alzheimer’s disease is believed to affect as many as five million Americans,65 and older. There are many who have early symptoms of the disease that may go undetected for as many as 10 years after experiencing the first symptoms. A delayed diagnosis not only reduces a physician’s ability to slow the disease process, but also harms family members and caregivers who manage the ongoing care of those who are suffering.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s is a very complicated and personal experience for everyone involved and traditional methods for identifying the disease are not always effective. Knowing that there are clues for early diagnosis, teams from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson went in search of new behavioral methods for identifying, and ultimately treating, early stage Alzheimer’s.

Discovery kit used in the research to identify the barriers to Alzheimer's diagnosis.

Our Approach

Conventional methods had failed to identify the key triggers for an early diagnosis. Worrell researchers designed a revolutionary study to glean insights that helped identify early indicators easily recognized by potential patients and their families.

The study involved an exhaustive forensic investigation involving 30 participants close to patients already suffering Alzheimer’s—spouses, children, parents, friends, co-workers, clergy members, etc. Discovery Kits, which included carefully designed research prompts and video journaling exercises, were shared with participants, probing the depths of their experiences with the patient.

Discovery kit used in the research to identify the barriers to Alzheimer's diagnosis.
Discovery kit used in the research to identify the barriers to Alzheimer's diagnosis.
Patient and family interviews used in the research to identify the barriers to Alzheimer's diagnosis.

Key Activities

Ethnographic Research

Discovery Kits

Care Network Mapping

Patient Timeline Documentation

Patient Journaling

Patient Documentaries

Research Synthesis

Strategic Messaging

Results

The Kits provided a foundation for trust and confidence among the participants; some later told us they found them to be “fun” and “therapeutic.” Mapping everything backwards through journal entries and other activities revealed a consistent timeline of events and tangible opportunities for early intervention that could be used in the diagnosis and treatment of other Alzheimer’s patients.

Discovery kit used in the research to identify the barriers to Alzheimer's diagnosis.
Discovery kit used in the research to identify the barriers to Alzheimer's diagnosis.

Update

Results of this research were incorporated into the development of Pfizer’s Bapineuzumab drug trial. Though the drug failed to reverse the biological effects of the disease, the insights gained from Worrell’s research activities became a powerful tool to help simplify the complexities of early disease detection.

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