We examined to what extent dementia and cognitive impairment are detected in a primary health care centre. A systematic sample of patients aged 70 years and above, who attended a primary health care centre for a doctor's consultation (n = 350) were examined with a neuropsychiatric examination and an interview with a close informant. Dementia was diagnosed according to DSM-III-R. Medical records from the health centre were examined for entries on cognitive decline or dementia, other diagnoses and prescribed drugs. The prevalence of dementia was 16.3% and a further 3.1% had questionable dementia. Cognitive disturbances or dementia were noted in case records in 15 out of 57 (26%) demented cases, and in 1 out of 11 (9%) questionable dementias. Compared to non-demented patients, the demented had more diagnoses and a higher number of prescribed drugs. Severity and duration of dementia were associated with an increased detection.
Copyright 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel.