Patients’ fear of dementia is concealing its true prevalence

Stigma and fear associated with dementia is preventing early diagnosis and hampering researchers from obtaining a full picture of the disease, according to a report by think tank the International Longevity Centre UK. 

In the report, ‘New perspectives and approaches to understanding dementia and stigma’, published on 24 October 2014, researchers found that at least 25% of people with dementia keep their diagnosis a secret because of the stigma associated with it, and people aged over 55 years fear a diagnosis of dementia more than any other condition. 

The Medical Research Council (MRC), which collaborated in the study, said it was important to acknowledge the stigma and fear associated with dementia. “If people are too frightened to address the early signs of dementia we can’t possibly get a full picture of the disease from a research perspective,” says Hugh Perry, the chair of its neuroscience and mental health board. 

The report was published as the MRC launched the £53m Dementias Platform UK (DPUK) — a partnership between universities and the pharmaceutical industry that aims to create the world’s largest study group for dementia research. The DPUK will have access to health and lifestyle information for more than two million people aged over 50 years and other scientific data to help inform the early detection, treatment and prevention of dementia.  

Last updated
Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 8 November 2014, Vol 293, No 7835;293(7835):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.20066974