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Results show improvement in communication of dementia diagnosis

Health professionals who engaged with the campaign improved the way in which they communicated dementia diagnosis and provided more post-diagnostic information and supports.
The first of the evaluation results of the Australian Forward with Dementia program were published this week in the journal BMC Health Services Research. Forward with Dementia is a 5-country study and co-designed public health campaign. It aimed to improve the communication of dementia diagnosis and post diagnostic support for people living with dementia and carers.

The newly published article summarises results including the reach of the campaign and positive feedback regarding the website and webinars. Importantly, Australian health professionals and diagnosticians who engaged with the campaign, improved the way in which they communicated a dementia diagnosis to clients and provided more post-diagnostic information and supports.

Prior to the Forward with Dementia campaign, formative research found many people, when diagnosed, were not given printed information, a care or support plan or even a follow-up consultation by their specialist. Many reported dissatisfaction with their diagnosis experience, and said their specialist failed to connect them to support services or give them any sense of hope.

Forward with Dementia targeted diagnosticians and healthcare professionals via a media campaign and webinar series to improve the diagnostic consultation and ensure the provision of post-diagnostic support. The website provided a healthcare professionals portal with a range of tools and resources. For example, the Checklist for communicating a diagnosis and care planning encourages doctors to arrange follow-up and care planning, and provide written information including contact details of key support organisations.

The evaluation results, detailed in BMC Health Services Research, found the majority of health professionals planned to, or had already modified communication of the of diagnosis itself and/or provided post-diagnostic information and referral.

The article also reports on the reach of the primarily online campaign, which ran during from October 2021 to June 2022 during the COVID pandemic in Australia. There were an estimated 29,053 interactions with campaign activities (including website, social media, online advertising, newsletter and partner promotions). Some people had multiple interactions. Three months following the campaign there continued to be an average of 760 new visitors per month to the website.

Thanks must go to the people living with dementia and their carers, as well as the diagnosticians and health care professionals who participated in both formative research and/or evaluation of the Forward with Dementia study.