Dementia requires a global response: international expert

Coordinated large-scale research programs could deliver greater impact in dementia outcomes than numerous small schemes, says the head of a major European initiative.

Coordinated large-scale research programs could deliver greater impact in dementia outcomes than numerous small schemes, says the head of a major European initiative

Professor Craig Ritchie Photo: Maverick Photo Agency
Professor Craig Ritchie

Given the persistent gap in research funding between dementia and other conditions such as cancer and heart disease, stakeholders should consider not just how much money governments spend but how these funds are used.

To that end, coordinated research programs might achieve greater impact than similar amounts of money being given to numerous smaller projects, says Professor Craig Ritchie, lead of the $100 million European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia (EPAD) Project, a major initiative for testing interventions for the prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia.

However, such large-scale programs required “substantial coordination and leadership,” Professor Ritchie told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Dr Ritchie, who is a Professor of the Psychiatry of Ageing at the University of Edinburgh, was in Australia to deliver the Wicking Trust Public Lecture last week.

Dementia was a global disease that deserved a global approach, he said. Japan and the US were looking to run programs similar to the EPAD, and involvement from Australia would be welcomed too.

Getting research into practice

Professor Ritchie said that the so-called ‘knowledge translation’ issue, ensuring that latest research findings were incorporated into clinical practice, was a “huge problem globally”.

There was no easy solution to addressing the research into practice question. “The best way is to engage the providers in the research in the first instance so they are sighted on what is going on from the outset,” he said.

Again, major co-produced research programs that engaged the public, providers and academics, who embedded within their programs implementation plans, may help to ease the translation issue, Professor Ritchie said.

“Academics should actively consider implementation in their work from the outset whether that be basic science or clinical research. This comes back to having fewer but larger research programs than is currently the case.”

The J.O. & J.R. Wicking Trust distributes $4 million annually and aims to achieve systemic change in the areas of ageing and Alzheimer’s disease.

Photo: Maverick Photo Agency

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Tags: Professor Craig Ritchie, University of Edinburgh, wicking-trust,

1 thought on “Dementia requires a global response: international expert

  1. Getting research into practice is a good thing as it provides provides opportunity for improvement. The problem is how these new findings are written. Often a layperson who may already have some background in health care and statistics finds it challenging to understand what the researchers have written. It appears the current evidence are being created for the benefit of researchers who at the moment are not keen in discussing their discoveries to an ordinary person. Will a high school student understand their report? Because most of the care workers on the ground are likely to be Cert III or Cert IV level and not college graduates. Perhaps a little bit of adjustment on how they write their report will help. Otherwise, any new findings will become irrelevant as specially individuals will have to translate this to ordinary people which at the current rate is not picking up speed!

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