Awareness of dementia risk reduction among current and future healthcare professionals: A survey study
Background: The total number of people affected by dementia worldwide is increasing rapidly. Recent studies provided evidence for the contribution of modifiable risk and protective factors to dementia risk. Although healthcare professionals could play an essential role in informing the general public about the relationship between lifestyle and dementia, it is unclear what they know about this relationship. Therefore, this study assesses the awareness of dementia risk reduction among current and future healthcare professionals.
Design and methods: An online survey was carried out among 182 healthcare students from Maastricht University and 20 general practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses in Limburg, The Netherlands. The survey assessed the knowledge about risk and protective factors of dementia and identified needs, wishes and barriers concerning dementia risk reduction strategies.
Results: The majority of current (75.0%) and future (81.9%) healthcare professionals indicated that dementia risk reduction is possible. Among students, awareness of cardiovascular risk factors of dementia (e.g., coronary heart disease (44.5%), hypertension (53.8%)) was low. Most participants (>70.0%) would like to receive more information about dementia risk reduction.
Conclusions: The majority of current and future healthcare professionals were aware of the relationship between lifestyle and dementia risk. However, there are still substantial gaps in knowledge regarding individual dementia risk factors. Given the essential role of healthcare professionals in providing lifestyle advice, there is a need to increase awareness by providing educational programs focused on dementia risk reduction.
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