Ken Hepburn is a Professor, tenured. His 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 and informal 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 programs that are culturally appropriate for Hispanic/Latino caregivers (Cuidando con Respeto), Native American caregivers, and African American dementia family caregivers. They are currently piloting an asynchronous/synchronous on-line group version of this program, the Tele-Savvy Program.

Areas of Expertise

Community Health

Research: Training and Education of Informal Caregivers of Persons with Chronic Illnesses (Alzheimer's, HIV/AIDS); Dementia Care

Teaching: Mentoring of Faculty in Preparation of Grant Applications and Publications; Research Theory


Samia, L. W., Aboueissa, A., Halloran, J. & Hepburn, K. (2013). The Maine Savvy Caregiver Project: Translating an Evidence-Based Dementia Family Caregiver Program within the RE-AIM Framework. The Journal of Gerontological Social Work, Published on-line Oct. 30, 2013.

Samia, LW, Hepburn, K, Nichols, L.  (2012).  “Flying by the seat of our pants”: What dementia family caregivers want in an advanced caregiver training program.  Research in Nursing and Health 2012 Aug 21. doi: 10.1002/nur.21504. [Epub ahead of print]

Clevenger, CK, Chu, TA, Yang, Z, Hepburn, KW (2012). Clinical care of persons with dementia in the emergency department: a review of the literature and agenda for research. Journal of the American Geriatric Society; 60(0): 1742-48.

More publications on the NIH website