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The effects of exposure to scenarios about dementia on stigma and attitudes toward dementia care in a Chinese community

  • Sheung-Tak Cheng (a1), Linda C. W. Lam (a2), Liliane C. K. Chan (a3), Alexander C. B. Law (a4), Ada W. T. Fung (a2), Wai-chi Chan (a5), Cindy W. C. Tam (a2) and Wai-man Chan (a6)...

Abstract

Background: This study investigated whether brief exposure to information has any effect on stigmatizing attitudes towards older people with dementia, and how people responded to this medical diagnosis.

Methods: 494 adults were randomly assigned to three groups differentiated by experimental conditions. Group A (control) responded to questions on stigma directly. Group B (symptom) read two vignettes that described the symptoms of two fictitious individuals with dementia, before answering questions on stigma. Group C (label) read the same vignettes which ended with a statement that the person was recently diagnosed with dementia by a physician. Data were analyzed with ANOVA, together with other pre-existing between-subjects factors.

Results: Brief exposure to information about dementia led to a statistically significant reduction in stigma (Groups B, C < A), regardless of whether the diagnostic label of “dementia” was included or not. Moreover, lower stigma was reported by persons who knew a relative or friend with dementia, who were younger and more educated, and who thought dementia was treatable.

Conclusions: As stigmatizing attitudes toward dementia are still a hindrance to early help-seeking in Asian communities, the findings suggest that community education may play a useful role in alleviating this barrier to early detection and intervention.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Sheung-Tak Cheng, Department of Psychological Studies, Hong Kong Institute of Education, 10 Lo Ping Road, Tai Po, N.T., Hong Kong. Phone: +852 2948 6563; Fax: +852 2948 7702. Email: takcheng@ied.edu.hk.

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