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In this blog, we hear about how a chance encounter at an SDRC Conference led to developments in dementia knowledge and education research. Read on to find out more…

Harnessing the power of the SDRC: strengthening dementia education research through collaboration

As dementia educators and researchers, we are always interested in whether our education is making a difference and how best to measure this. Born out of the first Dementia Strategy, the Dementia Champions programme is one educational intervention designed to equip the health and care workforce with the knowledge and skills to provide safe, person-centred, effective dementia care in hospitals. The programme is aligned to the enhanced level of the Promoting Excellence and designed to support participants enact their knowledge in their role as change agents, individuals who can influence and model improved care delivery. Evidence points to various contributing factors for people living with dementia having poor and disabling hospital care experiences. One aspect is that many staff feel under-confident, unprepared and insufficiently educated to provide quality care for people living with dementia. It is essential then to assess whether the programme meets its educational objectives and thus contributes to improving the hospital care experiences of people living with dementia and their families.

The team behind Scotland’s National Dementia Champions programme have been employing repeated measure designs to assess knowledge and attitudinal change amongst participants before and after the programme’s inception in 2011.  Between 2015 and 2018, the team used the 16 item Knowledge in Dementia (KIDE) Scale to measure knowledge gained (Elvish et al., 2014). The KIDE had been tested on a similar population and was reported to have good face validity and internal consistency reliability. However, over time we observed that participants had higher baseline scores and smaller effect sizes post-intervention due to the observed ceiling effects, this meant we could not accurately assess the distance travelled as a result of the educational intervention. Why participants had higher baseline scores, which indicated higher baseline knowledge is not entirely clear, though we suspect this may be related to an increase in awareness of dementia amongst healthcare professionals perhaps as a result of education aligned with national standards for dementia care and educational frameworks such as Promoting Excellence. This observation led us to seek a more sensitive dementia knowledge instrument.

In 2018 the team attended the SDRC annual conference where they had a fortunate encounter with Clair Gamble, who at the time, was a PhD student with the University of Dundee. Clair presented her work on the systematic reviews she had undertaken on dementia knowledge and attitudes scales. Since then, the UWS team have joined forces with Clair and her supervisor Tim Croudace to develop research on reliable and valid measures of dementia knowledge suitable for use in the health and social care workforce.

Using the systematic review as our jumping-off point, we decided to administer both the 25 item Dementia Knowledge Assessment Scale (DKAS) (Annear et al., 2015) and the 16-item KIDE to participants of Cohort 10 pre and post-delivery of Scotland’s National Dementia Champions programme between April 2019 and March 2020. The aim was to test the sensitivity of these two dementia knowledge instruments. The findings of this research were recently published in Nurse Education Today (MacRae et al., 2022). The DKAS was found to be stronger with regards to parameters of response, lack of ceiling effects, and ability to discriminate between pre and post educational intervention scores.  

Our findings suggest that the DKAS is a more suitable instrument for measuring dementia knowledge in post-registered health and social care staff. The results of testing the sensitivity of these two dementia knowledge instruments may help educators and researchers select the most appropriate and reliable instrument for measuring knowledge gain as a result of an educational intervention.

Our next steps are to develop new sets of dementia knowledge items suitable for use in trained health and social care staff and work on how best to assess attitudinal change. We are excited about the potential of the DKAS to effectively and sensitively evaluate the knowledge gained as a result of dementia education programmes. This will aid commissioners determine the quality, effectiveness, value for money and potentially impact of the various educational interventions on offer.  We are also excited about progressing the work on how best to assess attitudinal change, as positive shifts in attitude and values may begin to reduce the stigma associated with dementia and potentially have greater influence on practice change. Thanks to the opportunities the SDRC annual conference afforded us, we have found other dementia researchers interested in researching dementia education to collaborate with 😊

Dr Rhoda MacRae

Dr Anna Jack-Waugh

Dr Louise Ritchie

Dr Clair Gamble

Related publications

Banks, P., Waugh, A., Henderson, J., Sharp, B., Brown, M., Oliver, J. and Marland, G. (2014) ‘Enriching the care of patients with dementia in acute settings? The Dementia Champions Programme in Scotland’, Dementia, 13(6), pp. 717-736. DOI:

Brown, M., Waugh, A., Sharp, B., Duffy, R. and MacRae, R. (2018) ‘What are dementia champions and why do we need them?’, Dementia, 17, pp. 397-400. DOI:

Jack-Waugh, A., Ritchie, L. and MacRae, R. (2018) ‘Assessing the educational impact of the dementia champions programme in Scotland: Implications for evaluating professional dementia education’, Nurse Education Today. DOI:

MacRae, R., Gamble, C., Ritchie, L. and Jack-Waugh, A. (2022) ‘Testing the sensitivity of two dementia knowledge instruments in dementia workforce education’, Nurse education today, 108, pp. 105210-105210, Available: Elsevier Ltd. DOI:


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