J Am Med Inform Assoc 9:383-394 doi:10.1197/jamia.M1021
  • Original Investigation
  • Research Paper

Effects of a Multimedia Project on Users' Knowledge about Normal Forgetting and Serious Memory Loss

  1. Diane Feeney Mahoney,
  2. Barbara J Tarlow,
  3. Richard N Jones,
  4. Johnny Sandaire
  1. Affiliations of the authors: Research and Training Institute, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged, Boston, Massachusetts (DFM, BJT, RNJ); Webzest, Union, New Jersey (JS)
  1. Correspondence and reprints: Diane Feeney Mahoney, PhD, Director of Family Caregiving Technology Research and Development, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged, Research and Training Institute, 1200 Centre Street, Boston, MA 02131-1097; e-mail: <mahoney{at}>
  • Received 27 September 2001
  • Accepted 14 January 2002


Objective The aim of the project was to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of a CD-ROM–based multimedia program as a tool to increase user's knowledge about the differences between “normal” forgetfulness and more serious memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Design and Measurements The research was a controlled randomized study conducted with 113 adults who were recruited from the community and who expressed a concern about memory loss in a family member. The intervention group (n=56) viewed a module entitled “Forgetfulness: What's Normal and What's Not” on a laptop computer in their homes; the control group (n=57) did not. Both groups completed a 25-item knowledge-about-memory-loss test (primary outcome) and a sociodemographic and technology usage questionnaire; the intervention group also completed a CD-ROM user's evaluation.

Results The mean (SD) number of correct responses to the knowledge test was 14.2 (4.5) for controls and 19.7 (3.1) for intervention participants. This highly significant difference (p<0.001) corresponds to a very large effect size. The program was most effective for participants with a lower level of self-reported prior knowledge about memory loss and Alzheimer's disease (p=0.02). Viewers were very satisfied with the program and felt that it was easy to use and understand. They particularly valued having personal access to a confidential source that permitted them to become informed about memory loss without public disclosure.

Conclusion This multimedia CD-ROM technology program provides an efficient and effective means of teaching older adults about memory loss and ways to distinguish benign from serious memory loss. It uniquely balances public community outreach education and personal privacy.


  • This work was supported from 1998 to 2001 by grant IIRG-98-027 from the Alzheimer's Association.

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