Association between having a family member with dementia and perceptions of dementia preventability

Aging Ment Health. 2022 Feb;26(2):270-276. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2020.1839866. Epub 2020 Nov 2.


Background: One's experience with dementia may affect their perceptions about dementia preventability, which in turn could influence preventive health behaviors. We aimed to examine how having a family history of dementia and caregiving experience are associated with perceptions about and self-efficacy for dementia preventability.

Methods: Cross-sectional, self-administered survey. Participants reported whether they have had a family member with dementia and, among those who reported having a family member with dementia, whether they served as a caregiver. Outcomes were perceptions about the likelihood of dementia preventability, self-efficacy for dementia prevention, and benefits of specific dementia prevention strategies. Associations were assessed via partial proportional odds model for ordinal outcome variables and logistic regression for binary outcome variables.

Results: Of 1,575 respondents, 71% had a family member with dementia, of which 42% served as a caregiver. People with a family member with dementia were less likely to believe that dementia is preventable (aOR = 0.75, 95% CI: 0.58, 0.96) and had lower self-efficacy for dementia prevention (aOR = 0.71, 95% CI: 0.56, 0.90). The subgroup analysis among those with caregiving experience was consistent with the primary findings, showing less belief in the likelihood of dementia preventability (aOR = 0.69, 95% CI: 0.46, 1.03) and self-efficacy (aOR = 0.75, 95% CI: 0.56, 1.00).

Conclusion: Having a family member with dementia is associated with unfavorable perceptions about dementia preventability. Incorporating family history of dementia into communication efforts about dementia risk reduction may help address potential barriers to preventive health behaviors.

Keywords: Dementia; caregivers; family health history; perceptions; prevention.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dementia* / prevention & control
  • Family
  • Humans
  • Self Efficacy