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Reducing Alzheimer’s Stigma Could Enhance Research

Reducing Alzheimer’s Stigma Could Enhance Research

A new study suggests ongoing research on Alzheimer’s disease may be challenged by the stigma associated with the disease. This concern comes from the results of a national survey which discovered people may be afraid to admit they have early stage Alzheimer’s because of fear of discrimination — especially potential limitations on their health insurance.

Researchers say these fears can hopefully be overcome by the development of new policies to protect individuals. Nondisclosure of early symptoms that may or may not be Alzheimer’s hinders a individuals ability to obtain timely care. Additionally, a person may miss the opportunity to participate in clinical studies that discover potential therapies.

The finding are the results of a national survey about what beliefs, attitudes and expectations are most often associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The survey results appear in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“We found that concerns about discrimination and overly harsh judgments about the severity of symptoms were most prevalent,” said Shana Stites, Psy.D., from the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.

“By understanding what the biggest concerns are about the disease, we can help develop programs and policies to reduce the stigma about Alzheimer’s disease.”

The study consisted of a random sample of 317 adults who were asked to react to a fictional description of a person with mild stage Alzheimer’s disease dementia. Researchers asked respondents to read a vignette and then complete the survey. Read More

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