Dr O’Rourke leads a program of research to design, evaluate and disseminate interventions to improve quality of life for people with dementia. She applies systematic and scoping review methodology to promote understanding of quality of life from the perspectives of people with dementia, describe the meaning of social connectedness and loneliness for populations of older adults, and assess efficacy of interventions used with people with dementia to promote their quality of life.
Social connectedness—perceptions of intimacy and belonging in relationships with others— is a priority for quality of life according to people with dementia in Canada and internationally. Applying methodology for the development of complex interventions, Dr O’Rourke identified and adapted several interventions for use with people with dementia to address loneliness and promote social connectedness. Interventions will be tested in clinical trials to assess whether and how well the interventions work, contextualizing the findings for sub-populations of people with dementia.
The goal of this program of research is to produce effective interventions to promote social connectedness, and which people with dementia and their family, friends and health care providers find acceptable for use in real world settings. Ultimately, this research aims to have a meaningful impact on quality of life, as it is defined and understood by people with dementia.