Department of Family Therapy Dissertations and Applied Clinical Projects

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Family Therapy


Anne H. Rambo

Committee Member

Christopher Burnett

Committee Member

Robin Cooper


Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating illness that is the 6th leading cause of death among the elderly. The treatment of Alzheimer’s requires multiple interventions due to the complexity of the disease. The interdisciplinary group (IDG) model of care is considered a best practice for patients’ medical management (Molyneux, 2001). The IDG focuses on a holistic approach, which includes both patients and their caregivers. The IDG in hospice consists of professionals from different clinical disciplines whose collaborative knowledge and skills assist in caring for patients and their families.

This study focused on what works well in an exemplary IDG, using appreciative inquiry as to the method of inquiry. Data were collected from 6 participants of an exemplary IDG caring for patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The data were analyzed using the appreciative inquiry 4-D cycle: Discovery, Dream, Design, and Destiny. In the Discovery phase, 10 themes emerged, showing the connection to the Dream phase. The Dream phase led into the Design phase, focusing on provocative propositions, which bridge the best of what is with what might be. This then connected with the Destiny phase, bringing the dreams of the future to the present. I found that what works well with this exemplary IDG is the connection to other members of the team and the larger system; dedication; commitment; and valuing of team members, their patients, and patients’ families. The findings suggested the need for increased training of marriage and family therapists for IDG settings as the systemic thinking of marriage and family therapy appears to be a good fit for the IDG.