Risk communication in dementia care: family perspectives

Mabel Stevenson, Brian Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
205 Downloads (Pure)


Family carers are often involved in decisions concerning the health and social care needs of people with dementia. These decisions frequently involve considering risks inherent in daily living situations and discussing these with care recipients and professionals. The purpose of this study was to understand the risks that present most concern to family carers; explore attitudes and approaches of this group towards risk; and examine how information about risks is shared between familial carers, care recipients and professionals working in dementia care. Five focus groups were held across Northern Ireland between April and July 2015 involving twenty-two carers. Risks of most concern were driving, falls, financial risks, getting lost and using electrical appliances. Concepts of ‘risk’ related to terms such as danger, harm and vulnerability with emphasis on consequences rather than likelihoods. The psychosocial benefits of taking risk were recognised by some participants. Discussion of risks with family members with dementia primarily involved bringing risk matters to the attention of the individual. Family carers talked with a wide range of professionals about risks. Divergences in perspectives were noted, particularly in relation to matters of health and safety. A model of risk communication is developed illustrating how this can play a key role in informed, shared decision making where a family member has dementia, serving an important role in risk management processes in informal community dementia care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)692-709
JournalJournal of Risk Research
Issue number6
Early online date30 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished online - 30 Sept 2016


  • communication
  • dementia
  • family
  • risk


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