GPs missing early dementia -- new study

June 20, 2011, University of Leicester

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 misidentifications (false positives).

Researchers from the University of Leicester in the UK and National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, London, UK and the Department of General Practice, Dusseldorf, Germany examined 30 previous studies involving 15,277 people seen in primary care for cognitive disorders, including 7109 assessed for .

Although GPs managed to identify eight out of ten people with moderate to severe dementia, most patients with early dementia were not recognized. Only 45% of people with early dementia and were identified. Mild cognitive impairment is a condition that may precede dementia in some people.

Across the whole spectrum, GPs identified 3 out of 5 of people attending for broadly defined memory problems.

Dr Alex Mitchell, a consultant psychiatrist with the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust and a researcher at the University, said: "This study highlights for the first time that GPs trying to identify dementia actually make more false positive errors, with misidentifications outnumbering missed cases at least two to one."

"GPs working in busy settings struggle to identify early dementia and prodromal conditions based on their initial clinical judgement. This was particularly the case for patients living alone where no informant was available and when patients had relatively preserved daily function. Furthermore, GPs' attitudes towards dementia may play an important role in dementia recognition. A project within the German Competence Network Degenerative Dementias (CNDD) at the University of Dusseldorf is currently investigating this.

"Conversely patients with depression or were more at risk of being misidentified with dementia. However, the main influence is severity. Patients with mild dementia may not volunteer troubling and GPs are often unsure about the value of screening tests. Given the problem of false positives and false negatives we found that the application of a simple cognitive screening test after a clinical diagnosis would help GPs to achieve about 90% accuracy. We report separately which screening test may be best in Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2010;18:759."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Flu may be spread just by breathing, new study shows; coughing and sneezing not required

January 18, 2018
It is easier to spread the influenza virus (flu) than previously thought, according to a new University of Maryland-led study released today. People commonly believe that they can catch the flu by exposure to droplets from ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

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.