ACTPlan Research

Welcome to the ACTPlan Research page. Here you will find information about the original research and development of the ACTPlan education program developed and implemented by Dr. Gloria J. Bonner. Her research is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Her ethnically sensitive community-based education studies have effectively worked with well over 700 African American caregiver families and relatives over a thirty year period. 

Care provider and patient holding hands

Online Version of ACTPlan Found Effective

Previous studies of ACTPlan conducted by Dr. Bonner relied on delivery of the program in person by expert instructors. While effective, the reliance on in-person experts posed an obstacle for the wide dissemination of the program to African American families in need. To make the benefits of ACTPlan more widely accessible to this minority group, an online version was developed that expanded accessibility to broader ranges of this population. To test its effectiveness, a Phase II randomized controlled trial of the online version of ACTPlan was sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (grant #R44AG065095).

In the study, 91 African American family caregivers of loved ones with dementia, who lived in the greater Chicago area, were randomly assigned to participate in either the ACTPlan dementia education program in group Zoom sessions or a general health promotion education program also conducted over Zoom. Both groups attended their respective sessions at concurrent time intervals. Study results are promising in that, caregivers using the online version of the ACTPlan education program had outcomes comparable to the original, face-to-face ACTPlan in-person groups, including statistically significant gains in their knowledge about CPR, mechanical ventilation, and tube feeding, as well as increased confidence in their decision-making ability about end-of-life choices for loved ones. (The full study will be linked here when published.)

Previous Studies Related to ACTPlan

Bonner GJ, Freels S, Ferrans C, Steffen A, Suarez ML, Dancy BL, Watkins YJ, Collinge W, Hart AS, Aggarwal NT, Wilkie DJ. Advance Care Planning for African American Caregivers of Relatives With Dementias: Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2021 Jun;38(6):547-556. doi: 10.1177/1049909120916127. Epub 2020 Apr 20. PMID: 32308012.

Bonner GJ, Wang E, Wilkie DJ, Ferrans CE, Dancy B, Watkins Y. Advance care treatment plan (ACT-Plan) for African American family caregivers: a pilot study. Dementia (London). 2014 Jan;13(1):79-95. doi: 10.1177/1471301212449408. Epub 2012 Jul 2. PMID: 24381040; PMCID: PMC3882894.

Watkins YJ, Bonner GJ, Wang E, Wilkie DJ, Ferrans CE, Dancy B. Relationship among Trust in Physicians, Demographics, and End-of-life Treatment Decisions Made by African American Dementia Caregivers. J Hosp Palliat Nurs. 2012 May 1;14(3):238-243. doi: 10.1097/njh.0b013e318243920c. PMID: 24353477; PMCID: PMC3864045.

Westenhaver TF, Krassa TJ, Bonner GJ, Wilkie DJ. Advance care plans for CPR or mechanical ventilation in patients with dementia. Nurse Pract. 2010 Dec;35(12):38-42. doi: 10.1097/01.NPR.0000390436.13252.81. PMID: 21088562.