What is a population-level approach to prevention, and how could we apply it to dementia risk reduction?

Sebastian Walsh, Lindsay Wallace, N Mukadam, Oliver Mytton, Louise Lafortune, Wendy Wills, Carol Brayne

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The World Health Organisation's 2022 ‘blueprint for dementia research’ highlights the need for more research into population-level risk reduction. However, definitions of population-level prevention vary, and application to dementia is challenging because of its multi-factorial aetiology and a maturing prevention evidence base. This paper compares and contrasts key concepts of ‘population-level prevention’ from the literature, explores related theoretical models and policy frameworks, and applies this to dementia risk reduction. We reach a proposed definition of population-level risk reduction of dementia, which focusses on the need to change societal conditions such that the population is less likely to develop modifiable risk factors known to be associated with dementia, without the need for high-agency behaviour change by individuals. This definition, alongside identified policy frameworks, can inform synthesis of existing evidence and help to co-ordinate the generation of new evidence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-27
Number of pages6
JournalPublic Health
Early online date31 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023


  • health and wellbeing
  • dementia
  • public health
  • Prevention
  • Population-level
  • Risk reduction
  • Public health
  • Dementia


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