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User perceptions of a dementia risk reduction website and its promotion of behavior change
BACKGROUND: Several modifiable health and lifestyle factors are consistently associated with dementia risk and it is estimated that significantly fewer people would develop dementia if the incidence of risk factors could be reduced. Despite this, Australians' awareness of the health and lifestyle factors associated with dementia risk is low. Within a national community education campaign, Alzheimer's Australia developed a dementia risk reduction website providing information about modifiable risk or protective factors for dementia.
OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to assess the usefulness of the website content in improving knowledge and enabling adoption of recommended strategies, and to examine what additional resources consumers need.
METHODS: Visitors to the website over a 3 month period were invited to complete an online survey, which asked them to rate their knowledge of dementia risk reduction before and after visiting the site, how important monitoring their health related behavior was to them before and after visiting the site, their current behavior related to health and lifestyle factors associated with dementia risk, their intentions to change behavior, and the usefulness of potential additional resources to help them do so.
RESULTS: For this study, 123 Australian adults responded to the survey. 44.7% (55/122) were aged over 60 and 82.1% (98/119) were female. Respondents' ratings and comments indicated they generally found the content interesting, informative, and helpful to them. Respondents' ratings of their knowledge about the links between health and lifestyle factors and dementia risk significantly increased after visiting the website (P<.001). Their ratings of how important monitoring what they do in relation to their health and lifestyle factors were also significantly increased after visiting the website (P<.001). Average ratings for how well respondents felt they were doing at the time in relation to specific risk or protective factors were generally high, suggesting many website visitors already had high levels of health motivation and healthy lifestyle behaviors. 55.6% (45/81) said that after visiting the website their intention to make lifestyle changes was strong. Only 27.1% (22/81) said their intention to visit their doctor to discuss dementia risk reduction was strong. Potential additional resources that would help people assess and address their personal dementia risk factors were rated as more helpful than general information resources.
CONCLUSIONS: A dementia risk reduction website providing information about the current evidence and practical strategies was of interest and was useful to the Australian community. Benefits for visitors included increased knowledge and increased motivation to address relevant behaviors. Many visitors to the site were already health conscious, indicating that more needs to be done to get dementia risk reduction messages to the wider community. More interactive and personalized resources in future interventions may offer additional benefits to individuals.
Publication titleJMIR Res Protoc
Department/SchoolWicking Dementia Research Education Centre
Place of publicationCanada