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Clinician's Corner
November 28, 2007

Dementia Screening in Primary Care: Is It Time?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom (Dr Brayne); Kent Institute of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Kent, Kent, United Kingdom (Dr Fox); and Indiana University Center for Aging Research and Regenstrief Institute Inc, Indianapolis (Dr Boustani).

JAMA. 2007;298(20):2409-2411. doi:10.1001/jama.298.20.2409

Diagnosing dementia in the clinical setting currently depends on case finding, in which the clinician tests or refers patients whom the clinician suspects may have dementia based on symptoms or caregivers' concerns. However, many have argued that systematic screening should be introduced to enable early detection of dementia, allowing patients and families to make decisions regarding transportation, living arrangements, and other aspects of care when the patient is functioning at the highest possible level.1,2 Legislation signed in 2005 was designed to make memory screening more accessible.3 Some groups have suggested including a memory screening in the “welcome to Medicare” examination, several pharmaceutical companies have promoted regional screening efforts, the Alzheimer's Disease Foundation has declared November 16 “National Alzheimer's Screening Day,”3 and some researchers have advocated for dementia screening among individuals aged 75 years and older.1

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