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- FEARING FORGETTING? DEVELOPMENT OF A SCALE TO ASSESS ATTITUDES ABOUT DEMENTIA IN THE LAY POPULATION
- Ogu, Precious N
Individuals with dementia show a progressive decline in cognitive functioning which results in an inability to complete activities of daily...
Show moreIndividuals with dementia show a progressive decline in cognitive functioning which results in an inability to complete activities of daily living (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Early diagnosis of dementia is a positive prognostic indicator (World Alzheimer Report, 2011) and is widely regarded as an important pre-condition for improving dementia care (Kim et al., 2015; Vernooij-Dassen et al., 2005). However, negative attitudes and stigma towards dementia could possibly interfere with an individual’s willingness to recognize or accept the idea of themselves having the disease through label avoidance. The goal of the present study was to contribute to understanding the perception of dementia by developing a quantitatively derived and psychometrically validated measure that encompasses the positive and negative attitudes towards dementia held by people without dementia. This study also explored the potential association between negative attitudes about dementia and lack of familiarity with dementia as familiarity with individuals with mental illness is related to stigmatizing attitudes towards mental illness. These goals were achieved by a principal components analysis (PCA) of 56 modified items from extant and well-validated mental illness attitude scales (Community Attitudes to Mental Illness, CAMI, Taylor & Dear, 1981; Social Distance Scale, SDS, Link, 1986; Depression Stigma Scale, DSS, Griffiths et al., 2004). Convergent validity was assessed by examining the relationship between the final derived measure and a construct associated with negative attitudes about mental illness (Mental Retardation Attitude Inventory-Revised, MRAI-R). Discriminant validity was assessed by examining the relationship between the final measure and a construct that should be unrelated to negative attitudes about mental illness (Belief in a Just World Scale, BJW). Finally, exploratory analyses were conducted to assess if attitudes measured by the newly created scale are related to participants’ familiarity with dementia (Level of Familiarity Scale, LoFS, Corrigan et al., 2001). 400 adults with no history of dementia were recruited through Amazon’s MTurk. Participants were compensated by a credit to their Amazon account upon completion of the survey. The PCA supported 2 conceptually different (not method variance) latent components titled Negative Attitudes and Positive Attitudes. These 2 components comprise the Attitudes to Dementia Inventory (ADI). Construct validity was partially supported for each component of the ADI. Degree of familiarity with dementia was not associated with negative or positive attitudes about dementia. Overall, this study is an important contribution to dementia attitudes research. Given the identification of Negative Attitudes and Positive Attitudes have been identified as distinct dimensions of dementia attitudes, the ADI can be used to further investigate how negative reactions towards dementia might cause delays in initiating medical intervention and treatment, and also to examine whether positive attitudes provide any protections against the probable effects of negative attitudes on stigma and help-seeking behaviors. Since the early recognition and diagnosis of dementia is widely regarded as an important condition for improving dementia care (Kim et al., 2015; Vernooij-Dassen, et al., 2005), the ADI can be used to inform stigma-prevention, which hopefully translates into improved help-seeking behaviors.