Kimberly Chapman, a doctoral student in clinical psychology, awarded the Lillian Friedman Scholarship for the 2020-2021 academic year. Read further to learn more about her research, future goals and Kent State experience.
- Please give a short overview of your research.
My research centers around problematic behavioral symptoms (e.g., agitation, hallucinations, disinhibited behaviors), frequently referred to as neuropsychiatric symptoms, in people with dementia. I am particularly interested in the relationship between neuropsychiatric symptoms and caregiver burden, which is a term referring to the combination of physical, psychological, financial and social stresses associated with caregiving for a loved one with dementia. Neuropsychiatric symptoms in dementia are routinely associated with greater caregiver burden; thus, effectively identifying and treating these symptoms is crucial to maintain the health of the 16.1 million Americans who currently provide unpaid family care to people with dementia.
In particular, my research has focused on one specific neuropsychiatric symptom – "sexual disinhibition" (i.e., inappropriate sexual behaviors and comments). Sexual disinhibition is historically under identified in the literature, but recently I have identified it to be present in as many as 25% of people with dementia. I have also identified that sexual disinhibition could be more stressful for caregivers to deal with than other neuropsychiatric symptoms combined! However, currently there is no standardized method by which treatment providers can accurately identify sexual disinhibition. Because of this, sexual disinhibition often goes unaddressed by treatment providers. Thus, the primary focus of my dissertation is to create a new caregiver-report measure for the identification of sexual disinhibition in dementia. My hope is that creating a standardized questionnaire available for use among treatment providers will aid in more accurate identification of this problem, ultimately enabling development of treatments and interventions to improve the lives of families dealing with the difficult reality of dementia.
- What made you choose to pursue your graduate degree here at Kent State?
I chose to pursue graduate school of Kent State because the program came highly recommended by a mentor of mine (Dr. Mike Alosco) who had attended Kent State University's Clinical Psychology Doctoral program (working with Drs. Gunstad and Spitznagel in the neuropsychology lab). KSU quickly became my top choice after my interview day, once I was able to observe the strength of the research being conducted here and witness the passion of the KSU faculty and grad students first-hand. I am so happy that I chose to come to KSU – the program has equipped me with all the tools I need to go on and become a productive clinical researcher, and has instilled me with the confidence needed to articulate my ideas and take a metaphorical seat at the table.
- What do you enjoy most about attending Kent State for graduate school?
It is difficult to pick what I love most about attending KSU for grad school. The top things that come to mind are the opportunity to pursue my own ideas and passions as well as having an advisor who I greatly respect and who strongly encourages me every step of the way. I also love being surrounded by wonderful fellow grad students who have become colleagues and close friends. I appreciate having faculty staff who support and advocate for their grad students.
- What are your future goals?
In my final year of graduate school, I will be attending my year-long Association of Psychology Postdoctoral Internship Center's internship at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, beginning this summer. I will miss Ohio but am looking forward to experiencing a new city and completing internship and degree requirements. After graduation, I hope to obtain a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical neuropsychology and become a board-certified neuropsychologist. I would love to someday work in an academic medical center, where I can be involved in research, clinical work and help train the next generation of neuropsychologists!
- What does this award mean to you and how will it aid you?
This award means so much to me. Professionally, it in a way validates how devastating (especially from a mental health perspective) dementia is to affected families and to our healthcare system, and personally, because it shows me that others recognize the importance of the work I am doing. I know there are many very qualified and deserving graduate students at KSU doing such wonderful things, and it is a true honor and delight to be considered among them, and to be this year's lucky recipient!