How do doctors deliver a diagnosis of dementia in memory clinics?
British Journal of Psychiatry
Royal College of Psychiatrists
© The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2018
Reason for embargo
Under embargo until 12th March 2019 in compliance with publisher policy.
BACKGROUND: Dementia diagnosis rates are increasing. Guidelines recommend that people with dementia should be told their diagnosis clearly and honestly to facilitate future planning. AIM: To analyse how doctors deliver a dementia diagnosis in practice. METHOD: Conversation analysis was conducted on 81 video-recorded diagnosis feedback meetings with 20 doctors from 9 UK memory clinics. RESULTS: All doctors named dementia. Fifty nine per cent approached the diagnosis indirectly but delicately (“this is dementia”) while 41% approached this directly but bluntly (“you have Alzheimer’s disease”). Direct approaches were used more often with people with lower cognitive test scores. Doctors emphasised that the dementia was mild and tended to downplay its progression, with some avoiding discussing prognosis altogether. CONCLUSIONS: Doctors are naming dementia to patients. Direct approaches reflect attempts to ensure clear diagnosis. Downplaying and avoiding prognosis demonstrate concerns about preserving hope but may compromise understanding about and planning for the future.
This paper presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme (Grant Reference Number PBPG-1111-26063), and supported by the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care South West Peninsula
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.