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Doctors Talk Frankly About What Encourages and Impedes Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer's
Date:7/12/2009

an improve the diagnostic process.

"Increasing evidence suggests that early diagnosis of Alzheimer's and timely intervention is beneficial, both for people with the disease and their caregivers," Paterson said. "Because doctors are the primary entry way to healthcare services for the elderly and the usual point of contact with the health system for individuals with dementia and their caregivers, there remains a need to overcome their attitudes of 'therapeutic nihilism' surrounding dementia."

According to Paterson, "therapeutic nihilism" is a belief that there is no recognized cure or effective treatment for an illness, and therefore treatment or intervention in any form is not important.

At ICAD 2009, Paterson reported an interim analysis including interviews with 25 GPs.

The most cited enabler to early Alzheimer's diagnosis is a doctor's positive attitude to the diagnosis and treatment of dementia. In addition, GPs reported that having a trusting, personal relationship with individuals who provide dementia support services is a powerful enabler for dementia diagnosis and management. Most of the GPs reported that referral to support services for legal and financial planning, patient education, and caregiver support is an important part of disease management.

Additional factors that encourage early Alzheimer's diagnosis include: support from relatives and caregivers, belief in the patient's right to know, and the desire of GPs to be honest and open with their patients.

According to the researchers, the most frequently cited barriers to diagnosis of dementia in this study are that patients and GPs have differing health priorities, GPs are largely dependent on being alerted by either the patient or a relative about symptoms of memory loss, and GPs' challenges with properly timing referral to support services. Also reported by GPs was fear of
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SOURCE Alzheimer's Association
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