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Int Psychogeriatr. 2005 Sep;17(3):371-82.

Lay perceptions about mental health: where is age and where is Alzheimer's disease?

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  • 1Department of Gerontology, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Studies, University of Haifa, Israel.


Studies on laypersons' beliefs and knowledge about mental disorders have proliferated in recent years. However, attention has been focused mainly on depression and schizophrenia and on young adults. The aim of this paper is to summarize research in the area, and to discuss the need to expand research in the elderly population. The unique characteristics of older persons in terms of the prevalence and type of mental disorders, especially Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other dementias, as well as in terms of their being victims of "double jeopardy" require special attention and research. The present review has three main objectives. First, it summarizes the findings of studies examining different aspects of mental health literacy. Second, the importance of age in the study of mental health literacy is discussed. Third, findings of the few studies examining laypersons' beliefs in the area of AD are presented. Finally, research directions are suggested with special emphasis on the importance of geriatric mental health and mental health literacy.

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