With the growing population of older adults and projected increase in dementia expected to coincide with this, more health professionals will be required to meet the needs of people with dementia. It is, however, equally important to ensure that the knowledge and training of such staff is maintained at a high level to ensure best practice is followed. Following best practice not only benefits quality of life for people with dementia but may have implications for maintaining the functional competency of an individual. Sound knowledge of dementia assists in a number of specific benefits including earlier diagnosis, more effective implementation of therapeutic interventions, and improving the quality of care provided.
The research team collected demographic information and responses on the Alzheimer's Disease Knowledge Scale from 360 health professionals in Queensland. The respondents represented a broad range of professionals, ranging widely in experience and occupation. The researchers found that knowledge about Alzheimer's disease was moderate overall. Additionally, although there were large variations between individuals, scores often followed trends in accordance with a number of factors such as an individual's professional group, dementia-specific training/education, and experience caring for someone with dementia. Two areas in which there was a consistent deficit of knowledge were risk factors and the course of the disease.
Encouragingly, respondents' knowledge scores correlated well with their own estimates of their knowledge, obtained in addition to other measures. This suggests that many professionals are aware of limits to their knowledge and may be embracing of opportunities to develop their awareness of issues surrounding dementia.
The findings of this study have important implications for practice. The researchers were able to identify specific areas in which knowledge was lacking and demonstrated that dementia-specific training and/or education is an effective way of increasing knowledge. Together, this underscores the need to promote more involvement in dementia-specific programs and use of existing educational resources.
A copy of the review is available from the link below:
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