Cognitive impairment in older adults often unrecognized in the primary care setting

February 13, 2012

A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reveals that brief cognitive screenings combined with offering further evaluation increased new diagnoses of cognitive impairment in older veterans two to three fold.

Led by J. Riley McCarten, MD, of the Minneapolis VA and the University of Minnesota, researchers assessed the effect of screening on diagnosing in patients who were seen in VA primary care clinics and had no indiction of . Veterans aged 70 and older who failed the brief cognitive screen at a routine primary care visit were offered a further, comprehensive evaluation.

Of the 8,342 Veterans offered screening, 8,063 (97%) accepted, 2,081 (26%) failed the screen, and 580 (28%) agreed to further evaluation.

Among those accepting further evaluation, 93% were documented to have cognitive impairment, including 75% with dementia.

Additionally, 118 patients who passed the initial screen still requested further evaluation, and 87% were found to have cognitive impairment, including 70% with dementia.

"Our study demonstrates that proactive strategies such as are well-accepted and effective in diagnosing cognitive impairment, and that primary care providers value the diagnostic and management services involved," McCarten notes. "This project has implications for strategies that seek to improve care and contain costs in dementia."

The findings of this study run counter to the current standard recommendations by the American College of Physicians, U.S. Preventive Health Task Force, and Alzheimer's Association, which discourage routine cognitive impairment/dementia screening on all older patients at a certain age. Screening is only recommended if a person comes to a provider with some type of complaint that could be due to dementia.

Related Stories

GPs missing early dementia -- new study

June 20, 2011

New research from the University of Leicester demonstrates that general practitioners (GPs) are struggling to correctly identify people in the early stages of dementia resulting in both missed cases (false negatives) and ...

Recommended for you

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.