Research

Basic research on guardianship issues generally is underrepresented in the social sciences, especially on topics relevant to public guardianship services. Among the most urgent questions are (1) how extensive is the need for public guardianship; (2) how to balance autonomy and safety when making decisions as a surrogate; (3) the cost to society when a public guardian is not available for those who have no other option; (4) how Courts should oversee the work of guardians; (5) how to evaluate the effectiveness of a public guardian; and (6) how to develop less-restrictive alternatives, such as supported decision-making, and how to expand the use of limited guardianship when plenary powers are not needed.

The Institute, through its affiliation with Guardian Community Trust, is funding or collaborating in several original research initiatives designed to improve our understanding of guardianship and the public policy affecting those involved:

 

 

 

 

1. Needs Assessment for Massachusetts

Needs Assessment Project PhasesStatus
Phase I: Examining the Need for a Public Guardian in MassachusettsComplete
Examining the Need for a Public Guardian in Massachusetts
Phase II: Evaluating What Works and Doesn’t in Current System
A Survey of Hospital Social Workers, Guardians & Counsel
Complete
Guardianship for Adults without Surrogates in Massachusetts
Phase III: How Guardians Make Decisions for the Unbefriended
Survey of Members of the American Geriatric Society
In Progress
  • Topic: This is an extensive, multiphase and multi-year project to determine what kinds of guardianship services are available in Massachusetts, who receives and does not receive them, how a public guardian would fit within the existing system, and how best to meet the unmet need.
  • Facility: Boston VA Research Institute
  • Relationship: Sponsoring
  • Principal Investigator: Jennifer Moye, Ph.D., Director of Geriatric Psychology at Boston VA Health Care System, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School



2. Examining Costs of Not Providing a Public Guardian

Cost Examination Project PhasesStatus
Phase I: Study Design – Identifying Data Sources and ProceduresComplete
Phase II: Evaluation and Report of Collected DataComplete
Phase III: Extrapolation StudyComplete - Article Under Review
Phase IV: Time Series Evaluation Complete - Policy Brief
  •  Topic: This is an analysis of cost savings that may be realized if Massachusetts were to establish a Public Guardian, through reduced expenditures for emergency health care, protective services and social service agency interventions.
  • Facility: Donahue Institute at U. Mass Amherst
  • Relationship: Sponsoring
  • Principal Investigator: Eliot Levine, Ph.D.



3. Assessing Stage of Dementia and Decision – Making Capacity

  • Topic: A VA initiative to develop an interactive, web-based learning product that helps clinicians better assess stage of illness and decision-making capacity among Veterans with dementia.
  • Facility: Boston VA Research Institute
  • Relationship: Collaborating
  • Principal Investigator: Jennifer Moye, Ph.D., Director of Geriatric Psychology at Boston VA Health Care System, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
  • Status: Design stage



4. Surrogate Decision-Making

Decision-Making Project PhasesStatus
Phase I: Guardianship Decision-MakingComplete
Phase II: Healthcare Proxy Decision MakingIn Progress
  • Topic: This is a study of decision-making by Guardians with the goal of developing a decision-making training protocol for new guardians and a curriculum for the general public to learn more about Health Care Proxies and Durable Powers of Attorney.
  • Facility: Guardian Community Trust Harvard Medical School
  • Relationship: Sponsoring
  • Principal Investigator: Heather L. Connors, Ph.D., Director of Research for Guardian Community Trust Traci Cucinotta, LICSW, Masters Degree Candidate in Ethics and Biology at Harvard Medical School



5. Limited Guardianships

Limited Guardianships Project PhasesStatus
Phase I: Guardianship Decision-MakingComplete
Phase II: Healthcare Proxy Decision MakingIn Progress
  • Topic: A review of literature and policy to evaluate the successes and challenges surrounding limiting guardianship.
  • Facility: Guardian Community Trust
  • Relationship: Sponsoring
  • Principal Investigator: Heather L. Connors, Ph.D. Director of Research for Guardian Community Trust
  • Status: Design stage



6. Supported Decision Making: Fostering the Self-Determination of Individuals with Disabilities

  • Topic: A review of policy, literature and interviews of people using Supported Decision Making.
  • Facility: Northeastern University School of Law
  • Relationship: Client
  • Principal Investigator: Julia Maycock, JD, Legal Skills in Social Context Professor
  • Status: Complete

Northeasten University Supported Decision Making Study