Background: Community health professionals play a significant role in dementia care. However, little is known about community health professionals' capacity in dementia care, especially in low and middle-income countries. The aim of the present study was to assess community health professionals' dementia knowledge, attitudes and care approach in China, a country with the largest population of people with dementia in the world and where community based dementia care services are much needed.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted. 450 health professionals were recruited into the study using random sampling from community health service centres in Changsha, China. Their knowledge, attitudes and care approach were assessed utilising the Chinese version of the Alzheimer's Disease Knowledge Scale, Dementia Care Attitude Scale and Approach to Advanced Dementia Care Questionnaire respectively.
Results: A total of 390 participants returned the questionnaire (response rate 87%). Age, education, professional group and care experience were associated with knowledge scores, and overall dementia knowledge was poor. Attitudes were generally positive and influenced by age, professional group, gender and care experience. The experience of caring for people with dementia was positively associated with a person-centred care approach, although the participants tended not to use a person-centred care approach. A statistically significant association was found between knowledge and attitudes (r = 0.379, P < 0.001), and between attitudes and care approach (r = 0.143, P < 0.001). However, dementia knowledge has no relationship with a person-centred approach.
Conclusions: Community health professionals showed generally positive attitudes towards people with dementia. However, they demonstrated poor dementia knowledge and tended not to use a person-centred care approach. The results suggest that a multifaceted approach consisting of educational interventions for community health professionals, and policy and resource development to meet the demand for community dementia care services, is urgently needed in China.
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- care approach
- community health professionals