Dementia screening safe but offers few benefits by itself

Screening for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in primary care settings did not result in any harm as measured by patient-reported anxiety and depressive symptoms, according to findings of a randomized controlled trial published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. However, the researchers did not find any benefit from screening in increasing advance care planning or reducing ED hospitalizations and visits.

“Despite some people’s concerns about how people might feel if they are screened for dementia, especially if they screen positive, this study found that screening did not induce depression or anxiety in older adults,” Nicole Fowler, PhD, MHSA, research scientist at the Regenstrief Institute and associate director of Indiana University Center for Aging Research at Regenstrief Institute, told Healio Psychiatry. “Many patients and families have concerns that dementia screenings may create anxiety or depression in patients because there is, as yet, no cure for this disease. However, this study shows that is not the case.”

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