The Public's Perceptions About Cognitive Health and Alzheimer's Disease Among the US Population: A National Review

Healthy Aging Program, Division of Adult and Community Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway, NE MSK45, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.
The Gerontologist (Impact Factor: 3.21). 06/2009; 49 Suppl 1((suppl 1)):S3-11. DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnp088
Source: PubMed


The present review assesses the public's perceptions about cognitive health and Alzheimer's disease among adults in the United States. We searched the published literature and Internet, and contacted experts in the field to locate surveys assessing the public's perceptions about cognition. We found 10 eligible surveys and abstracted data concerning the public's knowledge, beliefs, concerns, and sources of information. Most of the surveys were conducted in the 2000s and focused on Alzheimer's disease rather then cognitive health. Based on the findings from the surveys, most adults were found to be aware of Alzheimer's disease but lacked specific information about the disease and its treatments. Most respondents did not perceive themselves as being very knowledgeable about Alzheimer's disease. Although we could classify the findings into several overarching domains, such as knowledge, we found considerable variability among surveys in the questions asked. Additional work is needed to understand the public's perceptions about cognitive health. Moreover, we also lack studies that help us understand perceptions about cognition across diverse demographic and cultural groups. Only by addressing these gaps can we develop targeted and effective strategies to enhance knowledge and beliefs about cognitive impairment and health.

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Available from: Renée Lynn Beard
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    • "The context for the promotion and maintenance of cognitive health therefore extends beyond addressing the challenge of population ageing to a broader focus on optimising cognitive functioning across the whole of adulthood (Anstey, 2014). A number of surveys have been conducted across the United States (Anderson et al., 2009; Laditka et al., 2012) the United Kingdom (McParland et al., 2012; U.K. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: Information is required regarding cognitive health beliefs and behaviours from across the life in order to inform the design of interventions to optimise cognitive health and reduce the risk of cognitive impairment. Methods: A survey of Australian adults aged 20-89 was administered via Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) software to respondents recruited by random digit dialling (N = 900). Socio-demographic and self-reported health information was collected to investigate associations with cognitive health responses. Results: Alcohol abuse was nominated by the highest proportion of respondents (34.3%) as detrimental for brain health. Fewer than 5% nominated elevated cholesterol, blood pressure, obesity, poor education, or ageing. The most frequently endorsed protective activity was socialising (70%). Socio-demographic factors predicted responses. Age-group differences were apparent in the proportions nominating alcohol (X(2) = 24.2; p < .001), drugs (X(2) = 56.8; p < .001), smoking (X(2) = 13.1; p = .001), nutrition (X(2) = 20.4; p < .001), and mental activity (X(2) = 12.8; p = .002) as relevant to brain health. Activities undertaken for cognitive benefit also differed by age. Across all ages the perceived benefit of activities was not supported by intentions to undertake activities. Conclusions: Interventions are needed to inform and motivate people across the life-course to undertake behaviours specifically to optimise their cognitive health.
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    • "For these individuals, the increasing appeal on cognitive functions, e.g. by the expansion of internet use and the increasing focus on individual choice in our society (Mikels et al. 2009), may be confusing and may confront them with their limitations more than used to be the case for earlier generations. Moreover, recent findings suggests that in the general population since the 1980s, the fear of dementia has grown as opposed to the fear of somatic diseases such as cancer (Borland et al. 1994; Anderson et al. 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Midlife is a period during which ageing-related health problems first emerge. In view of increasing life expectancy, it is of great importance that people in midlife adapt to possible health problems, to be able to lead productive and engaged lives as long as possible. It may be expected that given the better circumstances in which more recent cohorts grew up, they are better equipped to adapt to health problems than earlier cohorts. This study addresses the question if the way people in midlife adapt to health problems is or is not improving in the Netherlands. The study is based on the nationally representative 1992–1993 and 2002–2003 cohorts of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (ages 55–64 years), with follow-up cycles in 1995–1996 (n = 811) and 2005–2006 (n = 829), respectively. Mastery is considered as a measure of adaptation, and 3-year change in mastery is compared in subjects without and with health problems at baseline. A rise was observed in the prevalence of diabetes, chronic lung disease, arthritis, subthreshold depression, and disability. Subjects without health problems in the recent cohort had better mastery than their counterparts in the early cohort. Regardless of cohort membership, mastery declined over 3 years for those with subthreshold depression, mild disability, chronic lung disease, and stroke. In the recent cohort only, mastery declined for those with cognitive impairment, but improved for those with heart disease. These findings do not support the expectation that recent cohorts are better equipped to deal with health problems for conditions other than heart disease.
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    • "In addition, the special issue provides information about preferences and practicalities of physical activity programs for older adults with and without cognitive impairment, and identifi es gaps in scientifi c and public knowledge regarding specifi c guidelines for activities to improve cognitive health. The Forum (Anderson et al., 2009) provides a context for the special issue with a review of the current scientifi c literature on public perceptions about cognitive health and dementia in the United States. All the reports identifi ed in this extensive review were cross-sectional studies involving samples of convenience, and most of the studies focused on Alzheimer's disease (AD) and dementia. "

    Preview · Article · Jun 2009 · The Gerontologist
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