Concepts for communication about risk in dementia care: A review of the literature

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Communication about risk is central to decisions in dementia care. This review synthesises research on risk concepts and communication in dementia. Twelve bibliographic databases and one online search engine were searched up to February 2016. Reference lists of two related literature reviews were used. Thirty-four articles were identified that focused on risk concepts; two articles related to risk communication. Concepts were often socially constructed, and perceptions may differ from actual adverse outcomes. Perceptions of risk and thresholds of risk-tolerance varied between individuals with dementia, carers and professionals. Individuals with dementia were found to behave differently from controls when making decisions involving risk information in experimental settings. Cognitive impairment was also associated with lower health numeracy. These findings highlight the importance of communication between stakeholders when making decisions and of presenting information in an appropriate way to support informed and positive risk taking. Research is required on risk communication in dementia.

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