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NHMRC Survey reveals key dementia research priorities

ThinkPlace recently worked in collaboration with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to identify dementia research and translation priorities for Australia. Phase one of the project wrapped up in November / December 2015 and a summary report of the project has been released by NHRMC.

Through this ground-breaking project, priorities were identified in three stages of stakeholder engagement.

Initially, ThinkPlace engaged people with dementia, their families and carers as well as professional carers, through in-depth interviews and focus groups to understand their needs and priorities for dementia research.

These findings were then built on and refined by medical professionals and researchers to reflect what is possible and viable for the Australian research community.

Finally, all priorities were opened to further prioritisation through a national survey. The survey was open to all cohorts engaged in the first and second stages of research.

As captured in the summary report, the top dementia research and translation priorities identified through the survey, focus groups and interviews were:

For professional care providers, senior investigators, researchers and medical practitioners: to identify effective interventions to reduce the risk of and prevent the incidence of dementia.

For people with dementia: timely, accurate and supported diagnosis with prevention their second priority, a reminder of the importance of accurate and sensitive diagnosis and support for people and their families

For personal carers: to develop effective interventions to support their opportunity and capacity to care, which are quite patchy currently, and they also had prevention as their second priority.

The project drew on international best practice to understand priorities of people with a lived experience of dementia and to identify opportunities and barriers to translation.

The release of the summary report from Phase 1 marks the beginning of Phase 2. Through the next phase of the project ThinkPlace will work with NHMRC and other key stakeholders to develop a strategic road map to implement the priorities. The results will be used to inform the research agenda of the NHMRC National Institute for Dementia Research – a major component of the Australian Government’s $200 million Dementia Research Boost

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Sarah Forrester