“Preparadamente”: the Experience of Teaching Dementia in Primary Care

Atlantic Fellow and psychiatrist Tomás León discusses a new online course he has developed about dementia for primary care professionals in Latin America.

Smiling general practitioner sits at her workplace wearing a medical coat with a laptop.

Thanks to the support of the Pilot Awards for Global Brain Health Leaders grant, funded by the Alzheimer’s Association, Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI), and the UK-based Alzheimer’s Society, our team began an important challenge: to create an online course about dementia for primary care professionals. 

We wanted it to be as helpful and relevant as possible, aiming to provide real-life experiences and basing our curriculum on the genuine needs of primary care. Therefore, we first undertook a qualitative study in which we also considered the voices of the care partners and the person living with dementia, something novel in our context.

We learned that primary care professionals needed training in biomedical aspects, like diagnosis and behavioural symptoms management, and interpersonal areas, like diagnosis disclosure, ethical aspects and post-diagnosis care.

Using that information, together with international experiences and our expertise, we created a fully online course of over 120 teaching hours. It was completely free for the participants and was widely distributed among our networks. We also had significant support from the Ministry of Health of Chile who promoted the course among all primary care centre coordinators.

Ultimately, we had almost 19.000 enrollees, the biggest number of participants in a training course on dementia in national history. Due to the success and popular demand, we included paramedics and secondary care professionals who wanted to learn more about dementia. 

Our course was so successful that professionals from outside Chile also wanted to participate. So we created another tailored version for them aimed at the Latin American context. This is also available at no cost, thanks to the pilot award grant, and can be accessed on the following link:

As a next step we will analyse and publish the impact of the course on the alumni. Initial data has shown a significant improvement in both knowledge and confidence in dementia care, creating a change that we hope will maintain and grow over time since the Ministry of Health of Chile has adopted Preparadamente as the official training course for the entire health system nationwide.