Awareness of Alzheimer's Disease among Young Adults in Montreal, Canada

By Rzepka, Anna; Hollenberg, Drew et al. | International Journal of Child Health and Human Development, October 1, 2018 | Go to article overview

Awareness of Alzheimer's Disease among Young Adults in Montreal, Canada


Rzepka, Anna, Hollenberg, Drew, Borean, Michael, Anpalagan, Tharani, Song, Kevin, Liu, Jacie, Young, Tyler, Viehweger, Jaclyn, Chow, Ronald, International Journal of Child Health and Human Development


Introduction

Alzheimer's is a subtype and common form of dementia that affects the quality of life of many seniors. In 2013, it was the cause of 84,767 deaths in the United States, making it the 6th highest cause of death in the country (1). Although specific causes of the disease remain unclear, certain trends have been observed in the population. For example, it has been found that populations with lower levels or a lack of education are more likely to develop Alzheimers (2).

Many symptoms of Alzheimer's are not recognized by the general population until later stages of the disease. One possible reason behind this may be that people are not aware enough about dementia and its consequences. In order to measure the level of awareness amongst people in several cities, numerous surveys were conducted on Alzheimer's awareness (3-6). A study conducted in London, Canada, showed that while only 48% of participants believed themselves to be knowledgeable about the disease, 75% proved to be so based on the evaluation system in the study (7). A trend indicating that having a family member with Alzheimer's does not correlate with general knowledge about the disease was observed in prior studies (3-6). A very similar study was conducted in Montreal, Canada, in order to further asses the general trends in Alzheimer awareness.

Methods

A survey was created to measure the awareness among young adults in Montreal, Canada about Alzheimer's disease (8). The first page of the survey contained a consent form for the study; the participants could enter their email addresses to receive a copy of the consent form (8). Afterwards, the survey contained three questions regarding demographics, including the participant's primary place of residence, age and sex (8); only those who recorded Montreal, Canada, as their place of residence were included in this study. The subsequent page had six questions; the first was a reflection question and the others were knowledge-based questions - a quiz about Alzheimer's disease (8). The last page of the survey asked participants about their family history with Alzheimer's disease- whether, to the best of their knowledge, they have/had a family member affected by Alzheimer's; and how often they visit their relative (8).

The main purpose of the survey was to determine the awareness of Alzheimer's disease, across all young adults (regardless of age, sex and other background). The secondary objectives were to determine whether there were any differences across different subgroups - between men and women, between younger and older young adults, and between those with and without family members with Alzheimer's disease.

Statistical analysis

The analysis was similar to that conducted by Chow et al. (7). Descriptive statistics were used to report the six items - 1 reflection and 5 knowledge questions - on page 3. For each participant, an overall score out of 5 was generated for the number of questions they answered correctly, with the right answers being: Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia - True; Alzheimer's is part of the normal aging process - False; Alzheimer's worsens over time - True; There is no cure for Alzheimer's only treatments for symptoms - True; Alzheimer's is a leading cause of death - True. Participants with scores of 4 or 5 out of 5 were interpreted to be knowledgeable about Alzheimer's disease; those with 3 were marked as having satisfactory knowledge; those scoring 1 or 2 had poor awareness about the disease.

Subgroup analyses were conducted based on ages of participants (under 20 years old, and 20 years old and older), sex (male and female), and their family's history with Alzheimer's disease (affected and not affected). Fisher-exact tests were conducted to determine whether there was a significant difference between these groups. P-values less than 0.05 were deemed to be statistically significant. All analyses were conducted using the Statistical Analysis Software (SAS Version 9. …

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