Awareness of dementia risk reduction among current and future healthcare professionals: A survey study

  • Femke J.W. de Krom
    Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.
  • Sangavi Sivananthan
    Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.
  • Farah Alkhotany
    Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.
  • Martijn Celen
    Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.
  • Indy Ezra Hol
    Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.
  • Kylia J. G. Houben
    Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.
  • Pavalya Sivananthan
    Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.
  • Hanneke Koekebakker
    Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.
  • Kay Deckers
    Alzheimer Centrum Limburg, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience (MHeNs), Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands.


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.

 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.

 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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