Investigating the best ways to put dementia care research into practice

Lead Investigator: Dr Jo Thompson Coon

Institution: University of Exeter

Grant type: Project grant 

Duration: 12 months

Amount: £63,851
Scientific Title: Dissemination and implementation in dementia care: a systematic review 

Why did we fund this project?

Comments from members of our Research Network:

'It doesn't matter how good research findings are if the results are not able to be disseminated to those who would benefit'

'The application clearly outlines the aims and processes connected to this relatively small but possibly significant piece of work'

'The more I learn about research into dementia care in the UK the more I realise there is a massive gap in what is known, and what is actually happening in dementia care. If this research project goes some way to remedy this it will be a start in the right direction!'

What do we already know?

Research has provided us with a growing list of things that can be done to improvedementia care but there is widespread recognition of a large gap between the care that people receive and what research suggests best quality care should actually involve.

The existence of this gap implies there are issues with how people get to know about what we know from research to be best-quality care (dissemination) as well as with how this knowledge can be turned into action (implementation). 

One of the top ranked questions reported by the Alzheimer's Society/James Lind Alliance dementia priority-setting partnership was:

'How can the best ways to care for people with dementia, including results from research findings, be effectively disseminated and implemented into care practice?'

What does this project involve?

The researchers will comprehensively review scientific articles to identify all the published studies on how to disseminate and implement new ways of providing dementia care. They will cover all stages of dementia, from first diagnosis through topalliative care. It is hoped to identify what is known about the barriers to best practice at each stage and what strategies have been used to overcome them. They will establish how we can best communicate and put into action practices that have been shown to improve dementia care. This will include practice intended to benefit both those with dementia and those caring for people with dementia. 

Systematic reviews are a way of reviewing the state of the art on a topic by bringing together all existing published information about a topic and summarising it: this is sometimes called 'evidence synthesis'. The 'systematic' element means that the work is carried out in a manner that (a) includes everything published on a topic and not just the things that particular people think are important, (b) includes assessment of the quality of the evidence found, and c) is conducted and reported in a way that would allow someone else to replicate it and produce the same findings.

Due to the complicated nature of dementia care, evidence synthesis in this area is challenging. Researchers have to consider the various stages of dementia care, from diagnosis through to late stage and palliative care. There are many settings to consider: the home, the community, the hospital and the care home, and others. We must also keep in mind the perspectives of the individual with dementia and the many types of carer involved. There is also an increasingly large volume of dementia-related research from around the world. These complexities mean that having a clear research question and addressing it through robust methods is very important.

How will this benefit people with dementia?

It is hoped that this will lead to an improved understanding of how to disseminate and implement findings that can be applied to existing and future research in order to improve dementia care.

This will benefit the lives of those with dementia (and those who care for them) by helping to ensure they have access to and are receiving the best possible care. This will also benefit carers of people affected by dementia by helping to establish how best to put in place practices known to relieve carer burden.