Screening for cognitive impairment and dementia in the elderly

Can J Neurol Sci. 2001 Feb:28 Suppl 1:S42-51. doi: 10.1017/s0317167100001190.


Objective: To review the evidence available to support or refute the recommendation to screen for cognitive impairment (cognitive deficits which do not affect daily function) and dementia in primary care.

Data sources: Medline search using terms listed at the end of this article; consultation with experts in the field; review of other published recommendations.

Study selection: There were no articles which described a randomized controlled trial of screening versus no screening. Studies were therefore chosen which aided in the definition; natural history; interventions and outcomes including possible negative effects.

Data synthesis: No systematic synthesis was performed. Background papers were circulated to a panel of experts prior to the Canadian Consensus Conference on Dementia and conclusions endorsed by consensus.

Conclusions: 1. There is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against screening for cognitive impairment or dementia. (C); 2. Memory complaints should be evaluated and the individual followed to assess progression. (B); 3. When caregivers or informants describe cognitive decline in an individual, these observations should be taken very seriously; cognitive assessment and careful follow-up are indicated. (A) (See Appendix).

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged / psychology*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged