While lifestyle risk factors are implicated in the development and progression of cognitive impairment, interventional trials of individual participants have yielded unconvincing evidence. We sought to explore the development of lifestyle interventions targeting the household-unit.
Semi-structured interviews were carried out among eight households affected by cognitive impairment (i.e. member of the household had cognitive impairment). Interviews took place online using a secure, web-based video platform recommended for patient clinician interaction. Interview content was analysed, and important themes identified.
Eighteen participants were interviewed within households, of which eight (one per household) had cognitive impairment and others were spouses or first-degree relatives living in the same home. Several themes emerged; 1) household members without cognitive impairment were more likely to report poor sleep habits, and sleep was perceived to be the hardest behaviour to change; 2) diet generated most interest as a potential lifestyle intervention target as most participants believed there is a strong link with nutrition and cognition; 3) physical activity is challenging to adapt due to lack of motivation and focus when individuals are cognitively impaired. Barriers to study participation, including risk of harm, complexity of intervention and deviation from routine emerged during discussions.
This study identified beliefs and preferences of households towards lifestyle intervention trials. Findings from this study may be used to inform future clinical trial protocols and future qualitative studies should explore acceptability and feasibility of digital intervention applications.