Caring for patients with dementia: how good is the quality of care? Results from three health systems

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2007 Aug;55(8):1260-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2007.01249.x.


Objectives: To describe the quality of dementia care within one U.S. metropolitan area and to investigate associations between variations in quality and patient, caregiver, and health system characteristics.

Design: Observational, cross-sectional.

Setting and participants: Three hundred eighty-seven patient-caregiver pairs from three healthcare organizations

Measurements: Using caregiver surveys and medical record abstraction to assess 18 dementia care processes drawn from existing guidelines, the proportion adherent to each care process was calculated, as well as mean percentages of adherence aggregated within four care dimensions: assessment (6 processes), treatment (6 processes), education and support (3 processes), and safety (3 processes). For each dimension, associations between adherence and patient, caregiver, and health system characteristics were investigated using multivariable models.

Results: Adherence ranged from 9% to 79% for the 18 individual care processes; 11 processes had less than 40% adherence. Mean percentage adherence across the four care dimensions was 37% for assessment, 33% for treatment, 52% for education and support, and 21% for safety. Higher comorbidity was associated with greater adherence across all four dimensions, whereas greater caregiver knowledge (in particular, one item) was associated with higher care quality in three of four care dimensions. For selected dimensions, greater adherence was also associated with greater dementia severity and with more geriatrics or neurologist visits.

Conclusion: In general, dementia care quality has considerable room for improvement. Although greater comorbidity and dementia severity were associated with better quality, caregiver knowledge was the most consistent caregiver characteristic associated with better adherence. These findings offer opportunities for targeting low quality and suggest potential focused interventions.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • United States