Meeting the need for public education about dementia

Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord. Jan-Mar 2001;15(1):26-30. doi: 10.1097/00002093-200101000-00004.


Research continues to advance the knowledge of pathophysiology and development of effective methods for treating patients with Alzheimer disease and other dementias. Dissemination of information is likely to be slowest among the general population, who may be the first to recognize dementia symptoms but may also be reticent to discuss concerns because of fear, embarrassment, and/or inadequate knowledge. The feasibility of providing public education and access to dementia resources was studied using a toll-free interactive voice response (IVR) telephone system. Public interest in this service and willingness to use this technology were evaluated in a 1-month study conducted in a predominantly rural upper Midwest county (population of 102,565). One hundred ninety-three calls were received during November 1999, with an average length of 9 minutes and 29 seconds. One in six calls lasted 15 minutes or longer. One third of the calls were received outside typical business hours (8:00 AM to 6:00 PM). Concern for a parent or grandparent was the most frequent reason (50.6%) given for the call. Self-concern was indicated by 24.7% of the callers. Callers provided positive feedback. Such IVR technology may provide a cost-effective bridge to the "digital divide" existing among elderly, lower socioeconomic status, and rural populations underrepresented as computer and Internet users.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Caregivers
  • Data Collection
  • Dementia* / diagnosis
  • Dementia* / rehabilitation
  • Education*
  • Family Health
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hotlines*
  • Humans
  • Information Services*
  • Referral and Consultation