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November 1, 1985

Differentiating Dementia From Normal-Reply

Author Affiliations

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Iowa City

JAMA. 1985;254(17):2407-2408. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360170047009

In Reply.—  It appears that Mr Branconnier has misinterpreted the thrust of our article and the nature and purpose of our screening test.1 It is not designed to "diagnose" dementing illness but to identify older persons who deserve to have the benefit of comprehensive diagnostic studies. A positive result on the test would raise the suspicion that some form of mental decline, temporary or not, may be occurring and that medical attention and further psychological assessment should be considered. A false-positive finding would be clarified as such rather rapidly, most likely in a first medical interview, without any serious financial, psychological, or social consequences ensuing. In fact, the contrary might occur. Persons scoring as a false-positive may do so because of social, psychological, or medical problems, eg, depression, that may well benefit from medical attention.The letter reveals some misconceptions about dementia that deserve noting. First, there is insufficient