Help-Seeking for Dementia: A Systematic Review of the Literature

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Background:Help-seeking (HS) for dementia presents a great challenge, especially because a timely and appropriate HS process might be associated with better outcomes for the person with dementia, their caregivers, and society. A clear understanding of the HS concept and its measurement in the area of dementia might improve the effectiveness of the process.Aims:The aims of our systematic review were: (1) to systematically obtain and evaluate the relevant literature on HS and dementia; and (2) to summarize current research findings and draw conclusions for future research and clinical care in this area.Method:A systematic review of the literature on HS and dementia was conducted up till June 2013.Results:From the 478 retrieved articles, 48 were included in the review. Conceptually, the studies examined professional and nonprofessional sources of help; showed preference for seeking help from close relatives followed by primary health caregivers; and identified inadequate knowledge and stigmatic beliefs as the main barriers to HS. The majority of the studies did not rely on a theoretical framework.Conclusions:Although the body of literature in the area of HS and dementia is growing, several conceptual and methodological limitations still have to be resolved to advance knowledge in the area.

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