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Key Considerations When Developing and Implementing Digital Technology for Early Detection of Dementia-Causing Diseases Among Health Care Professionals: Qualitative Study

Lookup NU author(s): Sarah WilsonORCiD, Dr Clare TolleyORCiD, Dr Ríona McArdle, Dr Emily Beswick, Professor Sarah SlightORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


©Sarah Wilson, Clare Tolley, Riona Mc Ardle, Emily Beswick, Sarah P Slight. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (, 22.08.2023. BACKGROUND: The World Health Organization (WHO) promotes using digital technologies to accelerate global attainment of health and well-being. This has led to a growth in research exploring the use of digital technology to aid early detection and preventative interventions for dementia-causing diseases such as Alzheimer disease. The opinions and perspectives of health care professionals must be incorporated into the development and implementation of technology to promote its successful adoption in clinical practice. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to explore health care professionals' perspectives on the key considerations of developing and implementing digital technologies for the early detection of dementia-causing diseases in the National Health Service (NHS). METHODS: Health care professionals with patient-facing roles in primary or secondary care settings in the NHS were recruited through various web-based NHS clinical networks. Participants were interviewed to explore their experiences of the current dementia diagnostic practices, views on early detection and use of digital technology to aid these practices, and the challenges of implementing such interventions in health care. An inductive thematic analysis approach was applied to identify central concepts and themes in the interviews, allowing the data to determine our themes. A list of central concepts and themes was applied systematically to the whole data set using NVivo (version 1.6.1; QSR International). Using the constant comparison technique, the researchers moved backward and forward between these data and evolving explanations until a fit was made. RESULTS: Eighteen semistructured interviews were conducted, with 11 primary and 7 secondary care health care professionals. We identified 3 main categories of considerations relevant to health care service users, health care professionals, and the digital health technology itself. Health care professionals recognized the potential of using digital technology to collect real-time data and the possible benefits of detecting dementia-causing diseases earlier if an effective intervention were available. However, some were concerned about postdetection management, questioning the point of an early detection of dementia-causing diseases if an effective intervention cannot be provided and feared this would only lead to increased anxiety in patients. Health care professionals also expressed mixed opinions on who should be screened for early detection. Some suggested it should be available to everyone to mitigate the chance of excluding those who are not in touch with their health care or are digitally excluded. Others were concerned about the resources that would be required to make the technology available to everyone. CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights the need to design digital health technology in a way that is accessible to all and does not add burden to health care professionals. Further work is needed to ensure inclusive strategies are used in digital research to promote health equity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wilson S, Tolley C, Mc Ardle R, Beswick E, Slight SP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Medical Internet Research

Year: 2023

Volume: 25

Online publication date: 22/08/2023

Acceptance date: 15/06/2023

Date deposited: 31/08/2023

ISSN (electronic): 1438-8871

Publisher: JMIR Publications


DOI: 10.2196/46711

PubMed id: 37606986


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Funder referenceFunder name
Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation
Alzheimer’s Research UK
Gates Ventures
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)