There is increasing interest in using long-term observational studies of ageing for recruitment into trials of interventions to prevent the onset or progression of dementia or cognitive decline. The Cognitive Function and Ageing (CFAS) II study is one of a number of studies considering this approach. This potential change raises significant social and ethical questions regarding participation and consent and the acceptability and feasibility of interventions. As yet, these have not been explored.
This study involves consulting CFAS II research participants on the acceptability and feasibility of interventions identified by expert workgroups within the CFAS II project. These range from promoting physical activity and social engagement to pharmaceutical trials. The study will combine qualitative and quantitative assessments of a list of possible interventions identified by CFAS II experts.
Small group discussions and workshops will be held with CFAS II participants in Nottingham and Ely. They will allow participants to discuss proposals in depth and to appraise them against social, ethical, economic and scientific criteria. Forty participants will be recruited at each site, divided into four groups. In the discussions participants will discuss what they understand as healthy brain ageing and define the criteria they would use to judge intervention options. At a whole day workshop the groups will come together to engage with and draw on the scientific expertise of CFAS II researchers and to score the different interventions against their criteria. Finally, they will review the scores and the consultation process.
The discussions will generate qualitative data on participants’ views on interventions, while multi-criteria assessment software will be used to generate quantitative assessments. These will feed in to the decision making process around future CFAS II-based intervention research. The study will also provide the basis for work with other studies considering similar changes.