Faculty Articles


The effect of a memory screening program on the early diagnosis of Alzheimer disease.



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Alzheimer disease and associated disorders





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CONTEXT: Alzheimer Disease (AD) is often diagnosed at a moderately advanced stage, even though its early detection has become increasingly important, because of the continuing development of treatments that may improve its outcome.

OBJECTIVE: To determine if a free memory screening program is associated with an earlier diagnosis of AD, compared with traditional referral methods, such as by physicians and family members.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: A retrospective study of 1489 consecutive patients with AD who presented to an outpatient memory disorders clinic between 1993 and 2002. Subjects were classified according to referral source (memory screening, physician, family/friend, other), and self-reported ethnicity (white non-Hispanic, white Hispanic). The associations between referral source and the presenting cognitive and behavioral status of subjects were evaluated using analysis of variance and logistic regression analyses, after controlling for potentially confounding factors.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Score on the Folstein Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), duration of cognitive symptoms, and presence of psychosis, defined as delusions and/or hallucinations.

RESULTS: After controlling for ethnicity, gender, and the year of diagnosis, subjects with AD, who were referred by the memory screening program, scored significantly higher at presentation on the MMSE (20.8 +/- 5.7), than those referred by physicians (18.8 +/- 6.6), family/friends (16.8 +/- 6.6), or other referral sources (15.3 +/- 7.1). Subjects with AD, referred by the memory screening program, also had a lower reported duration of illness at presentation, and a decreased frequency of psychosis compared with those referred by family/friend and other methods. Other factors related to a diagnosis of AD at a later stage included female gender, Hispanic ethnicity, and a diagnosis early in the 1993 to 2002 time period.

CONCLUSIONS: The memory screening program referred patients with AD to a memory clinic at an earlier phase of illness compared with traditional methods such as physician referral.


Medical Specialties | Medicine and Health Sciences | Osteopathic Medicine and Osteopathy


Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Alzheimer Disease, Cognition Disorders, Comorbidity, Early Diagnosis, Female, Florida, Humans, Male, Mass Screening, Memory Disorders, Mental Status Schedule, Middle Aged, Psychometrics, Psychotic Disorders, Referral and Consultation, Reproducibility of Results, Retrospective Studies

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