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Dementia and the population health approach: promise, pitfalls and progress. An Australian perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2015

Catherine Travers
School of Nursing, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, Australia
David Lie
Metro South Addiction & Mental Health Service, Queensland Health, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Melinda Martin-Khan*
Centre for Online Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Centre for Research in Geriatric Medicine, The University of Queensland, Woolloongabba, Queensland, Australia
Address for correspondence: Dr Melinda Martin-Khan, Research Fellow, Centre for Research in Geriatric Medicine, The University of Queensland, Level 2, Building 33, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Ipswich Road, Woolloongabba, Queensland 4102, Australia. Email:


The increasing prevalence of dementia in Australia (and worldwide) over the next few decades poses enormous social, health and economic challenges. In the absence of a cure, strategies to prevent, delay the onset of, or reduce the impact of dementia are required to contain a growing disease burden, and health and care costs. A population health approach has the potential to substantially reduce the impact of dementia. Internationally, many countries have started to adopt population health strategies that incorporate elements of dementia prevention. The authors examine some of the elements of such an approach and barriers to its implementation.

International dementia frameworks and strategies were reviewed to identify options utilized for a population health approach to dementia.

Internationally and nationally, dementia frameworks are being developed that include population health approaches. Most of the frameworks identified included early diagnosis and intervention, and increasing community awareness as key objectives, while several included promotion of the links between a healthy lifestyle and reduced risk for dementia.

A poor evidence base (especially for illness prevention), diagnostic and technical limitations, and policy and implementation issues are significant barriers in maximizing the promise of population health approaches in this area.

The review and analysis of the population health approach to dementia will inform national and jurisdictional policy development.

Review Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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