Gerda G. Fillenbaum, PhD


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Professor Emeritus in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Department / Division:
Psychiatry / Geriatric Behavioral Health
0506 Busse Bldg
Durham, NC 27710
Office Telephone:
(919) 660-7530
  • PhD, University of London (UK), 1966
Research Interests:
Major focus is in three areas: epidemiology of dementia, assessment of functional status in the elderly, and pharmacoepidemiology.

With respect to the epidemiology of dementia I am running a major survey to determine the prevalence and incidence of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in black and white elderly community residents. In addition to determining age-, sex-, and race-specific rates, risk factors for these conditions are being determined. Attempts are underway to improve diagnostic distinctions among the dementias; computer-based assessment, suitable for epidemiological surveys, is being developed. Subjects are being followed to better identify those who will develop dementia, and compare the course of disease in black and white elderly who are demented.

Interest in the functional status of the elderly includes developing assessments suitable for use in an illiterate population, studies to try to understand the relationship of functional status to selected demographic and health characteristics, and identifying measures valuable cross-nationally for use and distribution by the World Health Organization.

In pharmacoepidemiology my major focus continues to be on identifying those characteristics (predisposing, need, enabling) which best explain use of prescription and nonprescription drugs and change in use of these in the elderly. I am particularly interested in determining whether lesser use of prescription drugs by black elderly indicates under use by this group, or whether white elderly are over-utilizing medications. The results of these studies have relevance for public health policy.