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Can older “at risk” adults benefit from psychoeducation targeting healthy brain aging?

  • Louisa M. Norrie (a1), Keri Diamond (a1), Ian B. Hickie (a1), Naomi L. Rogers (a2), Samantha Fearns (a3) and Sharon L. Naismith (a1)...


Background: Multifactorial strategies that prevent or delay the onset or progress of cognitive decline and dementia are needed, and should include education regarding recognized risk factors. The current study sought to investigate whether older adults “at risk” of cognitive decline benefit from psychoeducation targeting healthy brain aging.

Methods: 65 participants (mean age 64.8 years, SD 9.6) with a lifetime history of major depression; vascular risk as evidenced by at least one vascular risk factor; and/or subjective or objective memory impairment were allocated to weekly psychoeducation sessions or a waitlist control group. The small group sessions were conducted over ten weeks by a team of medical and allied health professionals with expertise in late-life depression and cognition. Sessions focused on modifiable risk factors for cognitive decline including vascular risk, diet, exercise, depression, anxiety and sleep disturbance, as well as providing practical strategies for memory and cognition. Both the psychoeducation and waitlist group completed a 20-item knowledge test at baseline and follow-up. Participants in the psychoeducation group were asked to complete follow-up self-report satisfaction questionnaires.

Results: Repeated measures ANOVA showed a significant interaction effect depicting improvements in knowledge associated with psychoeducation, corresponding to an improvement of 15% from baseline. Satisfaction data additionally showed that 92.3% of participants rated the program as “good” to “excellent”, and over 90% suggested they would recommend it to others.

Conclusions: A group-based psychoeducation program targeting healthy brain aging is effective in improving knowledge. Additionally, it is acceptable and rated highly by participants.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Dr Louisa Norrie, Old Age Psychiatrist, Ageing Brain Centre, Brain and Mind Research Institute, 94 Mallett St, Camperdown NSW 2050Australia. Phone: +61 2 9351 0672; Fax: +61 2 9351 0855. Email:


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