Kenneth W. Hepburn PhD
Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing
1520 Clifton Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30322-4027
Ken Hepburn's work recognizes the increasing prevalence of chronic illnesses, particularly in the context of the growing size of the elderly population - and the ever-increasing diversity of that population. His work also recognizes the central role that families and the natural communities with which the chronically ill are connected play in caring for the chronically ill and helping them to remain as independent as possible in their community settings.
Hepburn along with colleagues from a very wide range of disciplines, have worked to develop and test programs designed to strengthen the capacity of family caregivers to understand their caregiving role, to function effectively in it, and to do so in a manner that preserves their own health and well being. In this work, the group sees family caregivers as occupying what is, in effect, a clinical role - or really, an amalgam of a variety of clinical roles. As caregivers, family members need a set of skills and knowledge to help them understand the nature of the conditions with which they are dealing. They also need to strengthen their own sense of competence to enable them to approach the role with confidence and to develop strategies for caregiving that take the strengths and deficits of the care recipient into account. They have drawn from the work of Albert Bandura in designing psychoeducation programs that strengthen caregivers' sense of self-efficacy for caregiving.
Through a series of projects that have been supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research and the national Alzheimer's Association, Hepburn and his colleagues have developed and continue to develop - programs for family caregivers of persons with Alzheimer's disease and other dementing disorders. They have produced a transportable version of our program (the Savvy Caregiver program), have collaborated in the development of a program that is culturally appropriate for Hispanic/Latino caregivers (Cuidando con Respeto), and are currently at work on a program targeted to African American dementia family caregivers.