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Public perceptions of brain health: an international, online cross-sectional survey.

  • Budin-Ljøsne, Isabelle1
  • Mowinckel, Athanasia Monika2
  • Friedman, Barbara Bodorkos2
  • Ebmeier, Klaus P3
  • Drevon, Christian A4, 5
  • Carver, Rebecca Bruu6
  • Zsoldos, Enikő3, 7
  • Fredheim, Nanna Alida Grit8
  • Sørensen, Øystein2
  • Baaré, William Frans Christiaan9
  • Madsen, Kathrine Skak9
  • Fjell, Anders M2
  • Kievit, Rogier A10
  • Ghisletta, Paolo11, 12
  • Bartrés-Faz, David13
  • Nawijn, Laura14
  • Solé-Padullés, Cristina13
  • Walhovd, Kristine B2
  • Düzel, Sandra15
  • Zasyekina, Larisa16
  • And 2 more
  • 1 Department of Food Safety, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway [email protected] , (Norway)
  • 2 Department of Psychology, Center for Lifespan Changes in Brain and Cognition, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway. , (Norway)
  • 3 Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
  • 4 Department of Nutrition, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway. , (Norway)
  • 5 Vitas AS, Oslo, Norway. , (Norway)
  • 6 Department of Communication, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway. , (Norway)
  • 7 Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, Oxford, UK.
  • 8 Department of Genetics and Bioinformatics, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway. , (Norway)
  • 9 Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance, Centre for Functional and Diagnostic Imaging and Research, Copenhagen University Hospital, København, Denmark. , (Denmark)
  • 10 Cognitive Neuroscience Department, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 11 Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland. , (Switzerland)
  • 12 Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES, Geneva, Switzerland. , (Switzerland)
  • 13 Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and Institute of Neuroscience, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain. , (Spain)
  • 14 Department of Psychiatry, Amsterdam Neuroscience, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 15 Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany. , (Germany)
  • 16 Department of General and Clinical Psychology, Lesya Ukrainka Volyn National University, Luc'k, Ukraine. , (Ukraine)
  • 17 Department of Neurology, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Biomedical Research Institute Sant Pau, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain. , (Spain)
  • 18 Women's Brain Project, Guntershausen, Switzerland. , (Switzerland)
Published Article
BMJ Open
Publication Date
Apr 18, 2022
DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-057999
PMID: 35437254


To investigate public perspectives on brain health. Cross-sectional multilanguage online survey. Lifebrain posted the survey on its website and social media and shared it with stakeholders. The survey was open from 4 June 2019 to 31 August 2020. n=27 590 aged ≥18 years from 81 countries in five continents completed the survey. The respondents were predominantly women (71%), middle aged (41-60 years; 37%) or above (>60 years; 46%), highly educated (69%) and resided in Europe (98%). Respondents' views were assessed regarding factors that may influence brain health, life periods considered important to look after the brain and diseases and disorders associated with the brain. We run exploratory linear models at a 99% level of significance to assess correlates of the outcome variables, adjusting for likely confounders in a targeted fashion. Of all significant effects, the respondents recognised the impact of lifestyle factors on brain health but had relatively less awareness of the role socioeconomic factors might play. Most respondents rated all life periods as important for the brain (95%-96%), although the prenatal period was ranked significantly lower (84%). Equally, women and highly educated respondents more often rated factors and life periods to be important for brain health. Ninety-nine per cent of respondents associated Alzheimer's disease and dementia with the brain. The respondents made a connection between mental health and the brain, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia and depression were significantly more often considered to be associated with the brain than neurological disorders such as stroke and Parkinson's disease. Few respondents (<32%) associated cancer, hypertension, diabetes and arthritis with the brain. Differences in perceptions of brain health were noted among specific segments of the population. Policies providing information about brain-friendly health behaviours and targeting people less likely to have relevant experience may be needed. © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

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