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Improving Knowledge and Practice through Massive Open Online Dementia Education: The Understanding Dementia and Preventing Dementia MOOCs

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 17:58 authored by Maree Farrow, Kathleen DohertyKathleen Doherty, Frances McInerneyFrances McInerney, Shannon Klekociuk, Aidan BindoffAidan Bindoff, James VickersJames Vickers

Background: There is a documented need and growing demand for evidence-based consumer-friendly education to enable more effective dementia care and wider adoption of strategies to prevent dementia. The Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre developed the Understanding Dementia Massive Open Online Course (UD-MOOC) to increase knowledge of dementia and person-centred care practices, particularly for those providing care. The Centre’s Preventing Dementia MOOC (PD-MOOC) was developed to educate people on the scientific basis of dementia risk reduction, both those interested in reducing their own risk, and those providing related services.

Methods: The 9-week UD-MOOC examined how the brain is affected by diseases that cause dementia, symptoms, diagnosis, stages, management, and perspectives of those affected and caregivers. The 5-week PD-MOOC explored non-modifiable and modifiable risk factors, myths about dementia risk and causes, and barriers and enablers of health-behaviour change. MOOC completion was defined as a passing grade of 70% on 3 quizzes. To assess MOOC impact, completing participants were asked how they had applied knowledge gained and a natural-language processing algorithm was used to identify common themes.

Results: Six iterations of the UD-MOOC from 2013 to 2017 attracted a total of 119,611 enrolments, with 47,793 (40%) completing the course. Two offerings of the PD-MOOC in 2016 and 2017 attracted 27,048 enrolments and 13,778 (51%) completed. 76% of 2017 UD-MOOC and 75% of 2017 PD-MOOC feedback survey respondents agreed they had already applied the knowledge gained from the MOOC. Thematic analyses revealed UD-MOOC completers were applying a more person-centred approach to care, changing work practices, and sharing knowledge with others, and had improved understanding of dementia, and more empathy for and confidence in supporting people experiencing dementia. PD-MOOC completers specified they were increasing physical, social and cognitive activity, improving their diet, losing weight, having check-ups for vascular risk factors, more motivated to reduce their risk, and sharing knowledge with others.

Conclusions: The large enrolments and high completion rates for Wicking’s dementia MOOCs highlight the scale of demand for accessible quality dementia education. Participant feedback demonstrates that the MOOCs are improving both knowledge and practice, with potential large-scale impacts for dementia care and prevention.


Publication title

Alzheimer's Association International Conference


Wicking Dementia Research Education Centre

Event title

Alzheimer's Association International Conference

Event Venue

Chicago, USA

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Health education and promotion

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