Objective: To develop evidence based consensus statements on which to build clinical practice guidelines for primary care physicians toward the recognition, assessment and management of dementing disorders and to disseminate and evaluate the impact of these statements and guidelines built on these statements.
Options: Structured approach to assessment, including recommended laboratory tests, choices for neuroimaging and referral, management of complications (especially behavioural problems and depression) and use of cognitive enhancing agents. POTENTIAL OUTCOMES: Consistent and improved clinical care of persons with dementia; cost containment by more selective use of laboratory investigations; neuroimaging and referrals; and appropriate use of cognitive enhancing agents.
Evidence: Authors of each background paper were entrusted to perform a literature search, discover additional relevant material, including references cited in retrieved articles, consult with other experts in the field and then synthesize information. Standard rules of evidence were applied. Based on this evidence, consensus statements were developed by a group of experts, guided by a steering committee of 8 individuals, from the areas of Neurology, Geriatric Medicine, Psychiatry, Family Medicine, Preventive Health Care and Health Care Systems.
Values: Recommendations have been developed with particular attention to the context of primary care, and are intended to support family physicians in their ongoing assessment and care of patients with dementia. BENEFITS HARM AND COSTS: Potential for improved clinical care of people with dementia. A dissemination and evaluation strategy will attempt to measure the impact of the recommendations.
Recommendations: Forty-eight recommendations are offered that address the following aspects of dementia care: early recognition; importance of careful history and examination in making a positive diagnosis; essential laboratory tests; rules for neuroimaging and referral; disclosure of diagnosis; importance of monitoring and providing support to caregivers; cultural aspects; detection and treatment of depression; observation and management of behavioural disturbances; detection and reporting of unsafe motor vehicle driving; genetic factors and opportunities for preventing dementia; pharmacological treatment with particular emphasis on cognitive enhancing agents.
Validation: Four other sets of consensus statement or guidelines have been published recently. These recommendations are generally congruent with our own consensus statements. The consensus statements have been endorsed by relevant bodies in Canada.