Recruitment and Baseline Characteristics of Participants in the AgeWell.de Study : A Pragmatic Cluster-Randomized Controlled Lifestyle Trial against Cognitive Decline
Targeting dementia prevention, first trials addressing multiple modifiable risk factors showed promising results in at-risk populations. In Germany, AgeWell.de is the first large-scale initiative investigating the effectiveness of a multi-component lifestyle intervention against cognitive decline. We aimed to investigate the recruitment process and baseline characteristics of the AgeWell.de participants to gain an understanding of the at-risk population and who engages in the intervention. General practitioners across five study sites recruited participants (aged 60-77 years, Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging, and Incidence of Dementia/CAIDE dementia risk score ≥ 9). Structured face-to-face interviews were conducted with eligible participants, including neuropsychological assessments. We analyzed group differences between (1) eligible vs. non-eligible participants, (2) participants vs. non-participants, and (3) between intervention groups. Of 1176 eligible participants, 146 (12.5%) dropped out before baseline; the study population was thus 1030 individuals. Non-participants did not differ from participants in key sociodemographic factors and dementia risk. Study participants were M = 69.0 (SD = 4.9) years old, and 52.1% were women. The average Montreal Cognitive Assessment/MoCA score was 24.5 (SD = 3.1), indicating a rather mildly cognitively impaired study population; however, 39.4% scored ≥ 26, thus being cognitively unimpaired. The bandwidth of cognitive states bears the interesting potential for differential trial outcome analyses. However, trial conduction is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring adjustments to the study protocol with yet unclear methodological consequences.