Cost and effectiveness evaluation of FindMyApps, a tool to find usable apps for self-management and social participation in Dementia

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Netherlands Netherlands VU Medical Centre

Early Stage Researcher (ESR6)

ESR6: photo of David Neal

David Neal

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Prof. Rose-Marie Dröes

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Prof. Max Stek

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I am excited that my PhD research sits at the intersection of social health and digital health. In this DISTINCT role, I have the opportunity to combine my skills and experience from a wide range of experiences.

I am originally from Lincolnshire in the UK. I studied neuro-psychology and then medicine at the University of Cambridge and I worked for two years as a doctor in the UK NHS.

I was the founder of health tech start-up Vesalian, global health think tank Polygeia and I have worked at the World Health Organization in Geneva.

I now work in the Department of Psychiatry within the Amsterdam Universitair Medische Centra. I am carrying out a randomized controlled trial of the FindMyApps intervention (FMA). FMA is designed to support people with mild cognitive impairment and dementia to use tablet computers, with the aim of increasing social participation and self-efficacy.

Apart from that, I enjoy hiking, cooking and losing to my wife at board games.

Start date October 2019
Duration 36 months


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The interactive web based FindMyApps (selection tool + training), piloted and tested in a previous feasibility study, supports people with mild dementia (and family carers) in finding usable apps for the tablet for g self-management and social participation.

  1. to confirm the usability of the selected apps in the database of FindMyApps to support self-management and social participation;
  2. to investigate the effectiveness of FindMyApps in a randomised controlled trial;
  3. to investigate the cost-effectiveness of FindMyApps (MRC framework) and develop an implementation package and business model for implementation of FindMyApps.

Expected Results

It is expected that people with dementia who use FindMyApps regularly will participate more frequently in social and meaningful activities leading to better quality of life compared those who use the tablet computer without FindMyApps, or people who do not use the tablet at all. FindMyApps is expected to enhance the family carer/person with dementia relationship, and for carers reduced feelings of burden, higher sense of competence and quality of life to help them care for longer. As FindMyApps is a web based and low cost intervention, it is expected to be cost-effective and easy to implement. Based on experiences of users during the RCT (process analysis) improvements will help optimize its usability. An implementation package and business model will be developed.

Planned secondment(s)

Two for 3 months each. The first in year one with Saxion University to study pilot/ feasibility trials, and the second in year 3 with Eumedianet, to develop an implementation package and business model.


Evidence of dissemination:


  1. Neal, D.P., Engelsma, T., Tan, J.R., Craven, M.P., Marcilly, R., Peute, L., Dening, T., Jaspers, M., & Dröes R.M. (2022). Limitations of the new ISO standard for health and wellness apps. The Lancet Digital Health, 4, 2. 
  2. Neal, D.P.; van den Berg, F.; Planting, C.; Ettema, T.; Dijkstra, K.; Finnema, E.; Dröes, R.M. (2021) Can Use of Digital Technologies by People with Dementia Improve Self-Management and Social Participation? A Systematic Review of Effect Studies. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 10, 604.
  3. Neal, D.P., Kerkhof, Y.J.F., Ettema, T.P. et al. (2021). Evaluation of FindMyApps: protocol for a randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a tablet-based intervention to improve self-management and social participation of community-dwelling people with mild dementia, compared to usual tablet use. BMC Geriatrics 21, 138.


  1. Neal, D.P., Kerkhof, Y.J.F., Ettema, T.P., Dijkstra, K., & Dröes, R.M. (2022, 17-19 October). Main findings of the DISTINCT projects on technology to promote social health [Symposium presentation]. 32nd Alzheimer Europe Conference. Bucharest, Romania.
  2. Neal, D.P., Pistone, D., Ettema, T.P., Muller, M., Finnema, E., Dijkstra, K., & Dröes, R.M. (2021, November 29). COVID-19: a Catch-22 for providing tablet training? [Oral presentation]. INTERDEM meeting at 31st Alzheimer Europe Conference. Virtual, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  3. Neal, D.P., Kerkhof, Y.J.F., Ettema, T.P., Dijkstra, K., & Dröes, R.M. (2021, November 10-13). Read & understood? User-centered design of a cognitively accessible privacy policy for the FindMyApps intervention [Symposium]. Symposium entitled: Strategies to Design Technology Promoting Social Participation of People With Dementia and Their Caregivers (chaired by David Neal). The Gerontological Society of America’s 2021 Annual Scientific Meeting. Virtual
  4. David P. Neal, Yvonne J. F. Kerkhof, Kim Beentjes, Gianna Kohl, Ad Bergsma, Majon Muller, Marissa Zwan, Maud Graff, Rose-Marie Dröes (2020, October 20-22). Proven feasibility of the FindMyApps intervention to promote social health in dementia [Oral presentation]. 30th Alzheimer Europe Conference “Dementia in a changing world”. Online.
  5. Neal, D.P., Kerkhof, Y.J.F., Ettema, T.P., Muller, M., Bosmans, J., Finnema, E., . . . Dröes, R. (2020, October 2-3). Technology to support self-management and social participation in dementia? Protocol for a randomized controlled trial of the FindMyApps intervention [Poster presentation]. 20th International Congress of the International Psychogeriatric Association (IPA), Lisbon, Portugal.
  6. Neal, D.P., Kerkhof, Y.J.F., Ettema, T.P., Muller, M., Bosmans, J., Finnema, E., Graff, M., Tanja-Dijkstra, K., Stek, M.L., & Dröes, R.M. (2020, July 27-31). Self-management and social participation of community-dwelling people with dementia: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the tablet-based FindMyApps intervention [Poster presentation]. Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


  1. Saxion University of Applied Sciences: ‘Niet op ‘ja’ durven klikken: hoe los je onzekerheid bij ouderen over privacy-info in gezondheids-apps op?’ Available from:
  2. Radio 1Twente: ‘Ouderen zijn bang voor privacy-voorwaarden en worden zo buitengesloten.’ Interview available from:
  3. Zorgvisie: ‘Investeren in sociale zorgtechnologie is een gok.’ 15 February 2021, Available online from
  4. Dementia in Europe, the Alzheimer Europe Magazine: What attracts Early Stage Researchers to the dementia field? In: Dementia in Europe, 2021, Issue 35, p. 44.
  5. Neal, D. ‘DISTINCT project researchers find there is still little evidence available to show that new technologies help people with dementia remain socially active.’ Alzheimer Europe Newsletter, 2021, issue 2. Available online from