Effects on Stroop performance pre-and post-participation in the self management brain health coaching program




Kannan, Srijaa
Ross, Sarah
Quiceno, Mary
Severance, Jennifer
Jose, Roslin
Clark, Emily


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Purpose: About ¼ of adults age 65 and older develop cognitive impairment without dementia. Of those who live past 85, 1/3 will develop some form of dementia. Currently, there is no cure for dementia. While developing dementia may eventually be unavoidable, various factors contribute to the onset of dementia including lifestyle choices. Modifiable risk factors related to lifestyle can be addressed through health coaching. The purpose of this study is to implement a program that supports participants in making lifestyle changes that will help them function optimally now, and promote brain health and cognitive functioning in the future to help reduce their risk of developing dementia. Methods: This is a longitudinal study design in which participants are measured multiple times throughout their participation. Health coaching, education, and targeted assessments with feedback are used to provide a personalized approach to addressing brain health. Program participants received in-person health coaching across a 3-month period. Study participants must be ≥18 years of age, with no dementia or uncontrolled psychiatric illness. Participants complete survey assessments for each of the seven pillars of Brain Health: Diet, Exercise, Social Engagement, Cognitive Activity, Sleep, Mindfulness & Outlook, and General Health. Additional information collected includes demographic information and assessments of cognition. The Stroop test is a cognitive assessment that measures attention, executive functioning, and processing speed. The Stroop test was performed prior to the start and upon completion of the program; pre and post participation results were evaluated for correlations. Results: Of the 36 participants who enrolled and completed the pre-surveys for the program, 25 progressed to participate in health coaching visits with personalized brain health lifestyle goals. The average age of participants is 76. 80% of the participants are female and 94% are Caucasian. The majority of participants chose improving cognitive activity as their area of focus. Feedback from those who completed the program has been positive. Participants stated that the program length met their need for implementing change, they would recommend the program to others, and they had positive experiences with the health coach. All participants who have completed the program to date have shown an improvement in the Stroop Test raw scores for words and colors comparing the initial intake visit to the closure visit. 50% of participants showed some improvement in the color-word raw scores. Conclusion: Participants in the self-management program for brain health show improvements in attention, executive functioning, and processing speed as measured by their performance on the Stroop test. As individuals make improvements in the seven pillars of brain health, they can expect optimization of cognitive functioning and risk reduction for developing dementia. The program allows individuals to focus on the areas of most importance to them, which contributes to their success. Recommendations for future studies includes tracking participants longitudinally with an aim to assess program benefit in preventing and delaying the onset of dementia.