Emotional reactions toward people with dementia

Our paper on Emotional reactions toward people with dementia was accepted and is published online (though I don’t know and can’t check whether it’s behind a paywall – perhaps just visit me on ResearchGate). Here’s the abstract:

Emotional reactions toward people with disorders are an important component of stigma process. In this study, emotional reactions of the German public toward people with dementia were analyzed.

Analyses are based on a national mail survey conducted in 2012. Sample consists of persons aged 18 to 79 years living in private households in Germany. In all 1,795 persons filled out the questionnaire, reflecting a response rate of 78%. Respondents were asked about their emotional reactions and beliefs about dementia.

A vast majority of the respondents expressed pro-social reactions, i.e. they felt pity, sympathy, and the need to help a person with dementia. Dementia patients rarely evoked anger (10% or less). Between 25% and 50% of the population showed reactions indicating fear. Respondents who had contacts with a person having dementia or had cared for a dementia patient tended to show less negative reactions (fear, anger) and more pro-social reactions. Respondents who showed pronounced fearful reactions were less likely to believe that dementia patients had a high quality of life, were less willing to care for a family member with dementia at home, and were more skeptical about early detection of dementia. Comparison with the results of another study suggests that fearful reactions toward persons with dementia are much more pronounced than in the case of depression, and less pronounced than in the case of schizophrenia.

Fearful reactions toward people with dementia are quite common in the German general public. To reduce fear, educational programs and contact-based approaches should be considered.


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