Background: This paper provides an overview of the findings from the dementia module of the 2010 Northern Ireland Life and Times (NILT) Survey: an annual survey recording public attitudes to major social policy issues. Northern Ireland, in line with many other developed countries, recently released a Dementia Strategy. The opportunity to explore the knowledge and attitudes of the general public to dementia at a national level in Northern Ireland is timely and valuable. This paper reports on an initial exploration of these attitudes, based on bivariate analysis across demographic groups.
Methods: Data were analyzed using SPSS (Version 19). Descriptive and summary statistics were produced. A series of categorical bivariate relationships were tested (chi-square) and tests of association (Cramer's V) were reported. We discuss both knowledge-related findings and attitudinal findings.
Results: We found that the general public in Northern Ireland have a reasonably good level of knowledge about dementia. However, attitudinal measures indicate the stereotyping and infantilization of people with dementia.
Conclusions: This NILT module provides a unique source of data on attitudes to, and knowledge of, dementia. A key strength is that it provides statistically representative data with national level coverage. This information can be used to target public health education policies more effectively and to inform delivery of health and social services. The success of the module leads us to believe that it stands as a blue-print for collecting information on dementia in other social surveys.