The effect of a dementia awareness class on changing dementia attitudes in adolescents
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Background: Current evidence suggests that negative and stigmatising attitudes towards dementia may develop at a young age. There are a number of dementia education and awareness initiatives aimed at reducing stigma, though they have not been robustly evaluated to establish the impact on dementia attitudes or suitability in adolescent populations. This study explored the efficacy and satisfaction of one such initiative (Dementia Friends) in a British adolescent sample. Methods: 301 adolescents (M = 12.6 years old, SD = 0.73) were assigned to either receive Dementia Friends (a 60-min interactive class that teaches about dementia and its effects on people’s lives) or education as usual. All participants completed a series of validated questionnaires pre- and post-intervention, related to dementia attitudes (Brief A-ADS and KIDS). Results: Adolescents in the dementia awareness group showed little to no improvements between time-points. The change scores in the dementia awareness group did not significantly differ to the control group based on both KIDS (d = − 0.003, p = 0.98) and Brief A-ADS (d = 0.14, p = 0.13) measures. There was no Group x Time effect after controlling for confounding variables. Conclusions: Dementia Friends is successful in terms of reach and impact, though this study suggests that it may fall short of achieving its goal of improving attitudes towards dementia. Importantly, Dementia Friends did not have a negative effect on attitudes, and the majority of adolescents enjoyed the sessions. It is important that these findings are replicated in a larger randomised-controlled study.
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