The UCLA Division of Geriatrics has received $13.6 million to study the best way to serve a growing number of Americans suffering from dementia.

The five-year award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute announced May 14 will allow UCLA researchers to compare care delivered through a health system with care that occurs in a community-based setting. The federally funded institute is based in Washington, D.C.

“Whether a care team working within the health system can do a better job than a community-based care manager in coordinating the health and social needs of persons with dementia and their families is a fundamental, unanswered question,” said Dr. David Reuben, chief of the UCLA Division of Geriatrics, who will lead the study, in a statement.

Within a health system setting, dementia patient care is generally overseen by dementia care managers who have access to medical records, primary care physicians and consultants. Within a community-based system, care managers have ready access to community-based services to support caregivers and provide extensive training.

The UCLA researchers will recruit more than 1,500 participants with dementia at four U.S. sites who will receive 18 months of care in either a health system or community-based setting.

They will then track the behavior of the patients and the effects on caregivers, such as distress and depression, while assessing long-term nursing home placement and days spent at home at the end of the study.

There are an estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, a number that is expected to grow over the next few decades.

Health business reporter Dana Bartholomew can be reached at dbartholomew@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @_DanaBart.