Intention to seek help for early symptoms of dementia in people from South Asian backgrounds

Julia Hailstone

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Early detection and diagnosis of dementia has been a priority for UK dementia policy; earlier detection has been associated with multiple benefits including avoiding crises and reducing unnecessary institutionalisation. People from South Asian backgrounds are one of several ethnic minority groups that have been found to present late to dementia services, often in response to crises. This Thesis examined attitudes that promote or hinder help-seeking for early symptoms of dementia in people from South Asian backgrounds, using an established model of medical help-seeking: the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB). The study proceeded in two stages, firstly focus groups were used to identify and validate culturally-relevant themes for a TPB questionnaire. Secondly, a cross-sectional questionnaire study (N=51) was carried out. The questionnaire study addressed culturally-relevant attitudes related to help-seeking and general knowledge of dementia. Intention to seek help for memory problems was also assessed using a vignette.

The results support the use of the TPB in addressing help-seeking from a GP for memory problems in people from South Asian backgrounds. Two of three TPB direct attitudes: social norms and behavioural attitudes were found to be strong predictors of intention to seek help, whereas perceived control beliefs were not; these findings overlapped with previous studies of professional help-seeking for mental health issues. Culturally relevant attitudes, addressed via indirect TPB beliefs, were also found to significantly influence intention to seek help as implicated in previous qualitative research studies. However, no relationship was found between general knowledge of dementia and intention to seek medical help for memory problems as predicted. This result parallels findings that information interventions do not necessarily translate into increased help-seeking behaviour for mental health issues. Limitations of the present study and future research directions have been suggested, in particular there is a need to compare the present TPB model between ethnic groups to investigate the specificity of the model to people from South Asian backgrounds.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015

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