Dementia stigma reduction (DESeRvE) through education and virtual contact in the general public: A multi-arm factorial randomised controlled trial

Sarang Kim, Alice Richardson, Perla Werner, Kaarin J. Anstey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To examine the efficacy of the Dementia Stigma Reduction (DESeRvE) programme, aimed at reducing the general public dementia-related stigma utilising ‘education’ and ‘contact’ approaches. Methods: A total of 1024 Australians aged between 40 and 87 years (M = 60.8, SD = 10.1) participated in a factorial randomised controlled trial. This trial examined four conditions: online education programme (ED), contact through simulated contact with people with dementia and carers (CT), education and contact (ED+CT) and active control. Cognitive, emotional and behavioural aspects of dementia-related stigma were measured with a modified Attribution Questionnaire, and dementia knowledge was measured with the Dementia Knowledge Assessment Scale at the baseline, immediately and 12 weeks after the completion of the intervention. Results: All four groups improved (reduction in scores) significantly from baseline to week 12 in dementia-related stigma, and the effects were stronger for those with higher baseline stigma scores. Intervention groups also improved significantly from baseline in dementia knowledge. Especially, the ED (β =.85, SE =.07; p <.001) and ED+CT (β =.78, SE =.08; p <.001) groups at immediate follow-up and CT (β =.21, SE =.09; p <.05) and ED+CT (β =.32, SE =.09; p <.001) at 12-week follow-up showed significant effects. Conclusions: Findings suggest that DESeRvE can be a valuable tool to enhance public’s dementia knowledge and reduce dementia-related stigma, especially for those with higher levels of stigma. Reduction in stigma, however, may take a longer time to achieve, whereas improvement in dementia knowledge is instant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2152-2169
Number of pages18
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by Hazel Hawke Research Grant in Dementia Care from Dementia Australia.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • Australia
  • dementia
  • literacy
  • online
  • randomised controlled trial
  • stigma
  • stigma reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (all)


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