Objectives: This is the first study to focus on the role and impact of a psychosocial intervention, the Meeting Centre Support Programme (MCSP), for people living with dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) on the experience of stigmatisation across three different European countries.
Method: A pre/post-test control group study design compared outcomes for 114 people with dementia (n=74) and MCI (n=40) in Italy, Poland and the UK who received either the MCSP or usual care (UC). The 'Stigma Impact Scale, neurological disease' (SIS) was administered at two points in time, 6 months apart. The Global Deterioration Scale (GDS) was used to assess the level of cognitive impairment.
Results: Although statistical analysis did not show any significant differences between MCSP and UC at pre/post-test for the 3 countries combined, there were significant results for individual countries. In Italy, the level of SIS was significantly lower (p=0.02) in the MCSP group following the intervention. The level of Social Isolation increased significantly (p=0.05) in the UC group at follow-up in Poland. The level of Social Rejection was significantly higher (p=0.03) over time for UK participants receiving MCSP compared to UC.
Conclusion: The experience of stigma by people living with dementia and MCI is complex and there may be different country specific contexts and mechanisms. The results do not enable us to confirm or disconfirm the impact of a social support programme, such as MCSP, on this experience. Difficulties in directly measuring the level of stigma in this group also requires further research.
Keywords: Stigma; aging; attitude; dementia; social support.