What are next public health steps for improving brain health?

What are next public health steps for improving brain health?

The prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) is increasing at an alarming rate in the U.S. and around the world. A tremendous amount of funding and research has been directed towards medical, biological, and even behavioral research, however these efforts do not address ADRD as a public health issue.

The Healthy Brain Research Network (HBRN) strives to bridge this gap by promoting brain health and addressing the needs of older Americans living with cognitive impairment and their caregivers. As a researcher at the Illinois PRC, David X. Marquez, PhD, represented the HBRN on a panel at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago. There, he and colleagues discussed the Health Brain Initiative’s State and Local Public Health Partnerships to Address Dementia: The 2018-2023 Road Map and why the Road Map is necessary. The panel was chaired by Robert Egge of the Alzheimer’s Association and also included Lisa McGuire, PhD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; David Hoffman, MEd, DPS, of Maria College; and Jason Karlawish, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania.

The Road Map has four domains and three guiding principles. 21 of the 25 actions have roots in the previous Road Map from 2013-2018 while others focus attention in new areas.

The Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map for Public Health, 2018-2023 Domains and Actions

  1. Monitor and Evaluate (i.e., assess health status to identify and solve community health problems and evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services)
  2. Assure a Competent Workforce (i.e., assure that the public and personal healthcare workforce has essential competencies related to brain health)
  3. Develop Policies and Mobilize Partnerships (i.e., develop policies and plans that support people and community brain health efforts)
  4. Educate and Empower the Nation (i.e., inform, educate, and empower people about brain health issues).

The three guiding principles surrounding these domains are promoting health equity, collaborating across multiple sectors, and leveraging resources for sustained impact.

The Road Map will help state and local public health agencies and their partners chart a course for a dementia-prepared future. We hope that the Road Map helps guide us to an end to ADRD.


David X. Marquez, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition and UIC HBRN Principal Investigator. Follow him on Twitter @DrDavidMarquez.
Guilherme M. Balbim, MS, is a PhD student in the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition and UIC HBRN Scholar.

 About the Banner Image. Photo captured by Jesse Orrico, utilized by the Illinois PRC via Unsplash.