Making sense of dementia: Understanding amongst indigenous Australians

Gail Garvey, Donna Simmonds, Vanessa Clements, Peter O'Rourke, Karen Sullivan, Don Gorman, Venessa Curnow, Susi Wise, Elizabeth Beattie

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    INTRODUCTION: Dementia is a growing health and social concern for all Australians. Whilst the prevalence of dementia amongst Australia's indigenous people is unclear, there is some evidence that dementia rates are five times that of the general Australian population. To date no studies have examined dementia knowledge levels in indigenous communities.

    PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: This paper aims to explore indigenous Australians' understanding, knowledge and misconceptions of dementia.

    DESIGN AND METHODS: Hundered and seventy-four indigenous adults participated in a cross-sectional survey using a modified version of the Alzheimer's Disease Knowledge Test (ADK). The survey included demographic information, two open-ended questions and 20 multiple choice questions. Each ADK item was examined to identify responses that revealed commonly held correct beliefs, knowledge gaps and misconceptions.

    RESULTS: The overall level of understanding of dementia was poor. Younger participants were significantly more likely to have no knowledge of Alzheimer's Disease, whereas the other age groups were most likely to have at least some knowledge. It was also revealed that there are common misconceptions about Alzheimer's Disease held by both indigenous and non-indigenous communities.

    IMPLICATIONS: Culturally appropriate awareness campaigns and targeted educational interventions need to be implemented to improve the general level of understanding of dementia in indigenous communities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)649-656
    Number of pages8
    JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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