The Person-Based development of the ‘Active Brains’ digital behaviour change intervention for reducing cognitive decline

Max Western, Elisabeth Grey

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Background: Cognitive decline affects 10-20% of over 60s, with 5-10% of cases likely to progress to dementia annually. Physical activity, cognitive exercise and healthy eating can slow cognitive decline, but traditional programmes require considerable resource. This project is developing a digital behaviour change intervention to reduce cognitive decline amongst 60-85 year-olds, culminating in a 5-year trial of its effectiveness in preventing or delaying dementia onset amongst 20,000 people. Methods: A Person-Based Approach was employed, alongside theoretical and empirical understandings of relevant behaviours, to develop intervention content suited to intended users. This involved developing ‘guiding principles’ and conducting 62 qualitative interviews with adults aged 60-85 to gain feedback on iterative drafts of the intervention content. Feedback was systematically coded to identify and prioritise amendments. Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) representatives in the research team reviewed the feedback and its coding, and contributed their own perspectives. Findings: Participants reported that the ‘Active Brains’ intervention offered structure and guidance in making behavioural changes. They enjoyed the novelty of features such as brain training games and strength and balance training. Some felt that greater emphasis should be placed on social aspects of healthy behaviours and wanted more explicit advice about staying motivated. Discussion: Amendments to the Active Brains intervention were closely guided by these findings, for example, adding specific advice about including others in physical activity and how best to achieve this. We consider the benefits and challenges of the approach taken to developing Active Brains and outline the next steps for the project.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2019


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