Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are the leading causes of functional decline and reliance among the world’s elderly population, making it a major public health issue. Consciousness persists despite a gradual deterioration in cognitive abilities, memory, and other aspects of quality of life. In order to better target educational initiatives and patient support, it is necessary to measure future health professionals’ knowledge of dementia. The purpose of this research was to gauge how much Saudi health college students know about dementia and the factors that contribute to it.
College students majoring in health fields across Saudi Arabia participated in a descriptive cross-sectional study. Through the use of a standardised study questionnaire called the Dementia Knowledge Assessment Scale (DKAS) shared across various social media channels, researchers were able to collect information on participants’ sociodemographic characteristics and their level of familiarity with dementia. The statistical programme used for the analysis of the data was IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 24.0 (IBM Corp., Armonk, NY, USA). P values below 0.05 were considered to be statistically significant.
There were 1,613 people who took part in the research. 20.5 2.5 years old was the average age (range 18-25 years). Males accounted for 64.9% of the group while females made up 35.1%. The average participant scored 13.68 (standard deviation 3.18). (out of 25). The respondents scored highest on the care considerations DKAS subscale (4.17 1.30), and lowest on the risks and health promotion subscales (2.89 1.96). Also, we discovered that people who had never been exposed to dementia before had a much deeper understanding of the topic than those who had experienced dementia before. Further, we discovered that the DKAS score was significantly influenced by respondents’ gender, age (19, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25), location, and history of contact with dementia.
Our research revealed that Saudi Arabian health majors knew little about dementia. It is recommended that they participate in ongoing health education and extensive academic training to increase their knowledge and provide competent care for dementia patients.
The rapid shifts in population reflect the effects of longer life expectancy, which have led to an increase in the number of people in their later years . The number of people aged 60 and up is expected to increase over the next 15 years and more than double by 2050, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) . One of the most pressing issues facing society’s ageing population is dementia. These distinguishing features set it apart: Consciousness remains unharmed despite a gradual deterioration of cognitive ability, memory, or function that impairs daily life . Dementia is a global health concern, and Alzheimer’s disease is widely regarded as its leading cause. Other common causes of dementia include vascular disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, and frontotemporal dementia . Because dementia can have such a profound effect on social behaviour, it can exacerbate already challenging conditions for those affected and their carers. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia account for the seventh highest death toll in the world .
According to new data from the WHO , the global population at risk for developing dementia is approximately 55 million, and the number of new cases increases by nearly 10 million each year. In addition, 16.6% of elderly patients in a Saudi Arabia study had dementia . Dementia education is crucial and should be incorporated into the national health-related curriculum  so that future generations are better equipped and engaged in dementia care. Numerous studies conducted over the course of several years have shown that healthcare students lack appropriate training and knowledge on dementia [7-10].
The purpose of this research was to examine whether or not medical and pharmacy students’ understanding of and empathy for people with dementia were enhanced by participating in a virtual dementia experience . The Dementia Attitudes Scale (DAS) was completed before and after the intervention by medical and pharmacy students. There were 278 students total, 80 from the intervention group and 198 from the control group (n = 64 from the medical school and n = 214 from the pharmacy school). Students in the fields of medicine and pharmacy who only took part in the required coursework served as the control group, while those in the intervention group were exposed to a virtual reality experience designed to simulate the cognitive and perceptual challenges experienced by people with dementia. Researchers found that the intervention improved medical and pharmacy students’ knowledge of dementia and their attitudes toward those affected by the disease .
Brazilian medical students were surveyed in their final year to assess their awareness of and perspective on dementia . The students’ average knowledge score was 6.9 out of a possible 14. The students’ attitudes were positive because they felt they could improve the quality of life for both the patient and the carer and because they felt that telling the family about the diagnosis would be beneficial .
Risk factors for dementia and cardiovascular disease (CVD) were the focus of an Australian study designed to test medical school students’ memorization skills . It demonstrated their insufficient understanding of vascular risk factors for dementia. However, their scores on the Dementia Knowledge Assessment Scale were above average , indicating that they had a good grasp of the subject. Last year’s medical students in Malaysia, from both public and private universities, scored poorly on a test of dementia knowledge . Another study found that only 32.5 percent of the general population had any knowledge of dementia, while 67.5 percent admitted to having no or very little familiarity with the condition. It was found that knowledge was significantly affected by age, education, and gender (P = 0.01, 0.04, and 0.02, respectively). The general public had a poor understanding of and perspective on dementia .
In addition, the Dementia Knowledge Assessment System (DKAS) was used in another study with college students in Kuwait. The results showed that the DKAS subscales and total dementia score were significantly different among students from different campuses. All campuses had a mean dementia knowledge score of 15.09 out of a possible 25. As can be seen from the results, there is a need for increased education about dementia in schools . There appears to be a lack of information on our subject in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, the purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which health college students in Saudi Arabia understand dementia and its associated factors.
Supplies and Techniques
Between September and December of 2022, researchers in Saudi Arabia conducted a descriptive cross-sectional study. Students at various colleges of medicine in Saudi Arabia served as research participants. In this study, participants filled out a questionnaire on their own time and submitted it via a variety of digital mediums. There was a Microsoft Excel file where all the data was compiled after being gathered from the surveys. This study utilised IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 24.0 (IBM Corp., Armonk, NY, USA) for all data analysis needs.
Estimating a Sufficient Sample Size
Sample sizes were calculated using OpenEpi® version 3.0 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA, USA). With a margin of error of 5%, a confidence level of 95%, and a population estimated to be around 20,000, we found that a sample size of 385 was necessary to ensure a statistically significant result. We aimed to collect more data than was initially predicted in order to compensate for potential dropouts. A sampling method based on convenience rather than statistical probability was used.
Conditions for admittance or rejection
Students of both sexes from any region of Saudi Arabia who were enrolled in a health-related college (such as medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, respiratory therapy, nursing, emergency medical services, clinical laboratory sciences, occupational therapy, radiology sciences, nutrition, and speech therapy) were eligible to participate in the study. People who did not agree to participate, did not fill out the questionnaire, or did not meet our inclusion criteria were ruled out.
Methods and devices for collecting data
We used a self-administered questionnaire modified from an earlier study with similar aims . There are two parts to the questionnaire. Age, gender, location, medical school graduation year, and prior experience with dementia are some of the variables covered in the first section. Dementia familiarity was gauged by asking about formal dementia education (such as attending a session for health professionals or a training course/workshop about dementia), whether or not an immediate family member (parents, siblings, spouse, children, or anyone under your guardianship) had been diagnosed with dementia, and whether or not the individual had direct occupational/working experience in caring for dementia patients. The DKAS can be found in the subsequent chapter.
In 2015, the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, TAS, Australia created the DKAS as a 27-item knowledge questionnaire using a Likert scale with correct and incorrect statements about dementia . The 2017 version, with 25 items on the Likert scale, was used in this research . Because of its dependability [18,19], the DKAS was chosen. The DKAS covers all aspects of dementia, including its origins and characteristics, symptoms, how it is communicated, how it is treated, and how it can be prevented. Since most of the people in the study were fluent English speakers, the researchers were able to use the original English version of the DKAS.
The questionnaire can be scored from 0 to 50 using the following Likert scales: You get 2 points if you answer “true” to a statement that is true and 0 points if you answer “false” to a statement that is not true. If you answer “probably true” to a statement that is true and “probably false” to a statement that is not true, then you get 0 points.
The survey was disseminated online via Google forms and shared via various social media channels like Twitter, WhatsApp, and Telegram. Everything was kept secret and put to scientific use. All participants were given the opportunity to opt out of participating in the study and give their informed consent on the first page of the questionnaire. Before beginning the study, we made sure to get the appropriate ethical clearance. The King Faisal University Research Ethics Committee gave their stamp of approval (Reference no. KFU-REC-2022-SEP-ETHICS178).
Examination of the Numbers
The questionnaire was checked for errors and incomplete responses after it was sent out. An Excel spreadsheet was used to initially enter the data that was gathered. The statistical work was done in SPSS, version 24.0. For continuous variables, we used the mean SD, while for categorical variables, we used frequencies and percentages. A chi-square test was used to compare categorical variables. The cutoff for statistical significance was set at P0.05.