Study finds greater public awareness still needed about dementia

August 7, 2018 by Andrew Spence, The Lead
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Common beliefs and misconceptions in the community about dementia are still proving obstacles to treatment despite a rise in public awareness campaigns, an Australian study has found.

Researchers from Flinders University in South Australia pooled the results of 32 surveys from around the world published between 2012 and 2017 and found that public awareness of the causes of dementia has not changed.

Almost half of the total 36,519 respondents had the common misconception that dementia was a normal part of ageing and was not preventable. The importance of formal and management of cardiovascular were acknowledged by less than half of respondents even though regular exercise has been proven as the single most powerful influencer of brain health.

The public also tended to endorse poorly supported risk reduction strategies such as taking vitamin supplements, ahead of more effective but time consuming and energetic strategies, such as exercise regimes.

"We were surprised to find that dementia literacy is still so poor, given how much effort has been put into improving understanding," said lead researcher Monica Cations.

"The view that dementia is a normal part of ageing with few treatment options is a demonstrated barrier to both preventive health behaviours and to help-seeking and diagnosis in the event that symptoms emerge."

The 32 surveys were sourced from Europe (12), the United States (11), Asia (7) and Australia (2).

The findings and associated problems are outlined in the paper, "What does the general public understand about prevention and treatment of dementia? A of population-based surveys," which has been published by PLoS ONE

There are about 47 million people living with dementia worldwide.

While research has not yet discovered a cure, there is accumulating evidence about the potential to prevent approximately one third of cases of dementia with management of risk factors such as poor educational attainment, hypertension, and depression.

The recently adopted World Health Organization (WHO) Global Action Plan on Dementia urges all countries to implement campaigns to raise awareness about dementia. The plan includes a global target that all member countries will have at least one campaign on dementia by 2025.

The study follows on from a systematic review of papers to mid-2014, published by Cahill and colleagues in 2015, which had similar results to the current study.

Explore further: Report highlights scale of dementia epidemic in Africa

More information: Monica Cations et al. What does the general public understand about prevention and treatment of dementia? A systematic review of population-based surveys, PLOS ONE (2018). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0196085

Related Stories

Report highlights scale of dementia epidemic in Africa

September 28, 2017
Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) has published its first report on the impact of dementia in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), at its 4th Sub-Saharan African Regional Conference. The report, co-authored by researchers from ...

Dementia increases the risk of 30-day readmission to the hospital after discharge

February 23, 2018
About 25 percent of older adults admitted to hospitals have dementia and are at increased risk for serious problems like in-hospital falls and delirium (the medical term for an abrupt, rapid change in mental function). As ...

Incidence of dementia in primary care increased in the Netherlands over 23 years

March 7, 2017
The incidence of registered dementia cases has increased slightly over a 23-year period (1992 to 2014) in the Netherlands, according to a study published by Emma van Bussel and colleagues from the Academic Medical Center ...

Report identifies seven ways to prevent dementia

April 12, 2018
The ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), in collaboration with Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), has released new findings on cognitive ageing and decline trends in Australia.

TBI is associated with increased dementia risk for decades after injury

January 30, 2018
Traumatic brain injuries increase the risk of a dementia diagnosis for more than 30 years after a trauma, though the risk of dementia decreases over time, according to a new study published this week in PLOS Medicine by Anna ...

Global longitudinal study confirms obesity increases dementia risk

November 30, 2017
People who have a high body mass index (BMI) are more likely to develop dementia than those with a normal weight, according to a new UCL-led study.

Recommended for you

Scientists discover why some people with brain markers of Alzheimer's have no dementia

August 16, 2018
A new study from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has uncovered why some people that have brain markers of Alzheimer's never develop the classic dementia that others do. The study is now available in the ...

Researchers identify new genes that may contribute to Alzheimer's disease

August 14, 2018
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine, working with scientists across the nation on the Alzheimer's Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP), have discovered new genes that will further current understanding of the ...

Deaths from resident-to-resident incidents in dementia offers insights to inform policy

August 14, 2018
Analyzing the incidents between residents in dementia in long-term care homes may hold the key to reducing future fatalities among this vulnerable population, according to new research from the University of Minnesota School ...

Scientists propose a new lead for Alzheimer's research

August 14, 2018
A University of Adelaide-led team of scientists has suggested a potential link between iron in our cells and the rare gene mutations that cause Alzheimer's disease, which could provide new avenues for future research.

Eye conditions provide new lens screening for Alzheimer's disease

August 8, 2018
Alzheimer's disease is difficult to diagnose as well as treat, but researchers now have a promising new screening tool using the window to the brain: the eye.

Potential indicator for the early detection of dementias

August 7, 2018
Researchers at the University of Basel have discovered a factor that could support the early detection of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. This cytokine is induced by cellular stress reactions ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.