Screening for cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's disease and other dementias: opinions of European caregivers, payors, physicians and the general public.

Institute of Health and Society and Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
The Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging (Impact Factor: 2.66). 08/2010; 14(7):558-62.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The IMPACT survey queried physicians, caregivers, payors and members of the general public from 5 European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) regarding their opinions towards screening for Alzheimer's disease (AD) as part of a 30-minute Web-based questionnaire conducted between April and May 2009. A larger proportion of caregivers (84%) and members of the general public (80%) than of physicians (56%) or payors (40%) viewed routine screening for AD as extremely or very important (P < 0.001 for caregivers or general public vs physicians or payors). When asked if everyone should be routinely screened for AD at age 65, a smaller proportion of physicians (42%) and payors (44%) than members of the general public (81%) or caregivers (80%) agreed (P < 0.001 for caregivers or general public vs physicians or payors). These opinions were generally consistent across the 5 countries for each respondent group. A notable exception was physician respondents from Italy, where most generalists and specialists actually favoured screening. Overall, generalists had a more positive attitude towards screening than specialists. The most frequently cited reason given by those who did not favour routine screening at age 65 was screening inaccuracy. This article discusses these results in relation to what screening is, when to screen and the barriers to screening. Despite the majority of IMPACT respondents being in favour of screening for AD, the evidence to support the introduction of population screening for cognitive impairment is not available; however, the importance of optimal identification of AD and other dementias in primary care should be a priority for community health professionals and payors. In order to do this effectively, further work is required to identify good assessment guidelines for use during opportunistic screening for cognitive impairment in primary care.

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