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Remote dementia prevention trials become reality with world-first guidelines

People living beyond city-based clinical trial sites will now be able to participate in dementia studies with The George Institute of Global Health’s world first guidelines for remote clinical trials in prevention published today in Alzheimer’s and Dementia.1

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Ruth Peters, Program Lead for Dementia in the Brain Health Program at The George Institute and Conjoint Associate Professor at UNSW Sydney, said approximately seven million Australians, or 28 per cent of the population, live in rural and remote communities. 

“People living outside of cities and big towns often have poorer health outcomes than people living in metropolitan areas. Technology is driving an increased interest in remote clinical trials but until now there has been no specific recommendations on how to deliver this in the dementia field,” said A/Prof Peters.

Dementia experts based in Europe, UK, Africa, North and South America developed 40 recommendations in an accessible and practical guide for researchers running remote medication trials in dementia prevention.

Clinical and safety responsibilities to protect participants are critical alongside regional regulatory requirements. A/Prof Peters emphasises the recommendations are to aid researchers in the design and delivery of remote trials, not to replace or dictate particular requirements for any given trial.

“People who are unable to access traditional clinic sites because of where they live, mobility, cost, time or caring constraints may now have the potential to participate in remote trials,” explained A/Prof Peters.

This is both significant and timely given the increasing prevalence of dementia and a greater focus on prevention, earlier treatment, and repurposing medications for this condition. This has led to an increase in dementia trials, which would previously have excluded millions of people worldwide.

“Ultimately, our remote guidelines support greater inclusion, a major driver for greater health equity and one that always brings greater benefits. Including a wider population in trials generates findings and critical insights that better reflect the experiences and clinically relevant findings of the diverse communities we live in, informing future treatments and further research in specific populations,” she added.

More than 55 million people globally live with some form of dementia, over 60% of whom live in low-and middle-income countries.3 Every year, there are nearly 10 million new cases. Women are disproportionately affected by the condition both directly and indirectly, providing 70 per cent of care hours for people living with dementia.3,4 

  1. Howard, L et al. Decentralised clinical trials for medications to reduce the risk of dementia: consensus report and guidance. Alzheimer’s and Dementia, 2 June 2024
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Rural and remote health. Accessed June 2024
  3. World Health Organization. Dementia – key facts. Accessed June 2024
  4. Dementia Australia. Dementia facts and figures. Accessed June 2024