Value of Knowing
The survey of 2,678 people was designed and analysed by the Harvard School of Public Health and Alzheimer Europe. Fieldwork was conducted via telephone (landline and cell phone) with nationally representative random samples of adults age 18 and older in five countries by TNS, an independent research company based in London. Countries surveyed were the USA, Germany, France, Spain and Poland.
The survey was supported by a grant to Alzheimer Europe from Bayer AG. Bayer was not involved in the design of the survey or the analysis of the findings.
Results of the survey reveal that over 85% of respondents in the five countries surveyed say that if they were exhibiting confusion and memory loss, they would want to see a doctor to determine if the cause of the symptoms was Alzheimer’s disease. Over 94% would want the same if a family member were exhibiting the symptoms.
In four of the five countries, Alzheimer’s disease was the second biggest health fear after cancer. The public were asked to choose which disease they were most afraid of getting from a list of seven diseases including cancer, heart disease and stroke. Around a quarter of adults in four of the five countries say they most fear getting Alzheimer’s disease.
Fear of Alzheimer’s gets worse with age, but even young adults are concerned, with approximately one in seven 18- to 34-year-olds reporting Alzheimer’s as the disease they are most afraid of getting from the list provided.
The survey found a large proportion of the public has had some experience with Alzheimer’s disease. Majorities in all five countries say that they know or have known someone with Alzheimer’s disease, including about seven in ten in France (72%), Germany (73%), Spain (77%), and in the U.S. (73%), and 54% in Poland. In addition, about three in ten have personal experience with a family member with Alzheimer’s disease. Experience with a family member ranges from 19% in Poland to 42% in the U.S.
This high level of contact with Alzheimer’s disease is likely to have contributed to the wide recognition of common symptoms such as confusion and getting lost, which were recognised by at least 86% and 88%,respectively.
Few people recognised the severity of Alzheimer’s disease with approximately 40% knowing that it is a fatal condition (33-61%). In fact, Alzheimer’s is the seventh-leading cause of death in high income countries and the only cause of death among the top ten that cannot be prevented or cured.[ii]
Many of the respondents believe there is now an effective medical or pharmaceutical treatment to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease and make the symptoms less severe (27%-63%). Also, nearly half believe there is a reliable medical test to determine if a person suffering from confusion and memory loss is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease (38%-59%).
The survey also found public interest in predictive testing. Approximately two thirds of respondents said that, they would get a medical test which would tell them whether they would get Alzheimer’s disease before they had symptoms.
Find out more on:
- Public concerns about Alzheimer's disease,
- Public attitudes towards people with Alzheimer's disease,
- Public expectations from policy makers,
- Public experiences of Alzheimer's disease,
- Public knowledge of Alzheimer's disease,
- Public beliefs on existing treatments and diagnostic tests,
- Public attitudes to early diagnosis.
Last Updated: Monday 17 September 2012