Lay Perspectives of Medicines for Dementia: a Qualitative Study

  • Denise Ann Taylor

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This was a two phase study exploring lay perspectives of medicines for dementia. In phase one, participants were recruited from 4 local branches of the Alzheimer’s Society in the southwest to take part in a single focus group or interview. In total 5 people with dementia and 23 carers participated. The aim was to explore perceptions of medicines on day-to-day life. Findings fell into 3 superordinate themes: On Being a Carer; Interacting with Healthcare Professionals and Living with a Degenerative Illness. Participants described great variability in access to medicines and in outcomes of consultations with healthcare professionals. Ageism and therapeutic nihilism were commonly encountered.

Phase Two was a longitudinal study exploring the impact of medicines for dementia in early stage disease using a case study approach. Seven case studies were recruited via memory clinics; with four receiving a medicine for dementia and three not. Case study participants were followed over a 13-month period. The superordinate themes were: Living with a Memory Problem or Dementia; Interacting with Healthcare Professionals and Medicines for Dementia. Even in the early stages of a dementia spousal relationships were negatively affected. Medicines for dementia enabled renegotiation of spousal relationships and adjustment and acceptance to take place. The Mini-Mental State Examination was perceived to tell only half the story and was insensitive to improvements in alertness, initiative, engagement with the individuals’ lifeworld and ability to maintain and engage in social relationships.

Overall both phases found access to medicines for dementia a complicated and long procedure. The methods for assessing response were perceived as threatening and unrealistic. There was a perceived need for greater education about dementia and its treatment for healthcare professionals, people with dementia and their carers. It was identified that pharmacists could take a more proactive role in providing a pharmaceutical care service.
Date of Award1 Sept 2009
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorPeter Redfern (Supervisor)


  • response
  • medicines for dementia
  • benefit
  • communication
  • efficacy
  • outcome
  • relationships

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