A new study has found that two-thirds of people 65 and older who screened positive for cognitive impairment refused subsequent evaluation.
Researchers from the Indiana University (IU) Center for Aging Research, Regenstrief Institute and Eskenazi Health found that individuals living alone were the least likely to agree to diagnostic assessment following a positive screening test for dementia.
The study, which included 500 older adults who did not have a previous diagnosis of dementia, also found that an individual’s negative preconceptions of the stigma surrounding dementia were associated with refusing to undergo diagnostic assessment. Surprisingly, this did not also correlate with an unwillingness to undergo initial screening, the researchers noted.
Those who agreed to continue from positive screening to diagnostic assessment were more likely to agree with positive statements about other types of screening, such as colonoscopy, the researchers added.
Age, sex, and race appeared to have no impact on an older adult’s decision to follow or not follow a positive cognitive impairment screening result with diagnostic assessment, according to the study, which was published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, an open access, peer-reviewed journal from the Alzheimer’s Association.
“The findings from our study are important given the low rates of detection of dementia and the high percentage of older adults with dementia who never receive a cognitive evaluation,” said Nicole Fowler, Ph.D., of the IU Center for Aging Research and Regenstrief Institute, who led the new study.
“Early intervention and education of patients and their caregivers on dementia and dementia screening could increase the number of patients seeking diagnostic assessment and inform efforts that address the perceived stigmas associated with dementia screening.
“While screening and evaluation can’t delay or alter dementia progression, definitive diagnosis based on a cognitive assessment can alert physicians to treatable symptoms and allow the older adult and family members to prepare for future cognitive decline,” she added.
“Understanding patients’ attitudes about the risks and benefits of early identification of dementia and how those attitudes translate to behaviors toward screening is vital to assess the value of population-based dementia screening,” concluded Fowler, who is also an assistant professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine.
Source: Indiana University