New research from the University of Leicester demonstrates that general practitioners (GPs) are struggling to correctly identify people in the early stages of dementia resulting in both missed cases (false negatives) and misidentifications (false positives).
Researchers from the University of Leicester in the UK and National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, London, UK and the Department of General Practice, Dusseldorf, Germany examined 30 previous studies involving 15,277 people seen in primary care for cognitive disorders, including 7109 assessed for dementia.
Although GPs managed to identify eight out of ten people with moderate to severe dementia, most patients with early dementia were not recognized. Only 45% of people with early dementia and mild cognitive impairment were identified. Mild cognitive impairment is a condition that may precede dementia in some people.
Across the whole spectrum, GPs identified 3 out of 5 of people attending for broadly defined memory problems.
Dr Alex Mitchell, a consultant psychiatrist with the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust and a researcher at the University, said: "This study highlights for the first time that GPs trying to identify dementia actually make more false positive errors, with misidentifications outnumbering missed cases at least two to one."