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Open Access Study protocol

A 12-week multidomain intervention versus active control to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Kaarin J Anstey1*, Alex Bahar-Fuchs1, Pushpani Herath1, George W Rebok2 and Nicolas Cherbuin1

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Research on Ageing Health and Wellbeing, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

2 Department of Mental Health, and the Center on Aging and Health, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA

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Trials 2013, 14:60  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-60

Published: 27 February 2013

Abstract

Background

Disappointing results from clinical trials of disease-modifying interventions for Alzheimer’s dementia (AD), along with reliable identification of modifiable risk factors in mid life from epidemiological studies, have contributed to calls to invest in risk-reduction interventions. It is also well known that AD-related pathological processes begin more than a decade before the development of clinical signs. These observations suggest that lifestyle interventions might be most effective when targeting non-symptomatic adults at risk of AD. To date, however, the few dementia risk-reduction programs available have targeted individual risk factors and/or were restricted to clinical settings. The current study describes the development of an evidence-based, theoretically-driven multidomain intervention to reduce AD risk in adults at risk.

Method

The design of Body Brain Life (BBL) is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate a 12-week online AD risk-reduction intervention. Eligible participants with several modifiable risk factors on the Australian National University (ANU) AD Risk Index (ANU-ADRI) are randomly allocated to an online only group, an online and face-to-face group, or an active control group. We aim to recruit 180 participants, to undergo a comprehensive cognitive and physical assessment at baseline, post-intervention, and 6-month follow-up assessment. The intervention comprises seven online modules (dementia literacy, risk factor education, engagement in physical, social, and cognitive lifestyles, nutrition, and health monitoring) designed using contemporary models of health behavior change.

Discussion

The BBL program is a novel online intervention to reduce the risk of AD in middle-aged adults at risk. The trial is currently under way. It is hypothesized that participants in the intervention arms will make lifestyle changes in several domains, and that this will lead to a reduction in their AD risk profile. We also expect to show that health behavior change is underpinned by changes in psychological determinants of behavior. If successful, the findings will contribute to the development of further dementia risk reduction interventions, and thus contribute to the urgent need to lower dementia risk factors in the population to alter future projections of disease prevalence. Longer follow-up of BBL participants and replications using large samples are required to examine whether reduction in AD risk factors will be associated with reduced prevalence.

Trial registration

Reg. no. ACTRN12612000147886

Keywords:
RCT; Alzheimer’s disease; Behavior change; Internet; Physical activity; Diet; Cardiovascular risk factors