Background: Lewy body dementia (LBD) is the second most common cause of dementia, however, little is known about how the clinical diagnosis of LBD is obtained in the community or the caregiver experience while seeking the diagnosis.
Methods: The Lewy Body Dementia Association (www.LBDA.org) conducted a web-based survey of 962 caregivers over a 6-month period.
Results: The mean age of respondents was 55.9y; 88% were female and 64% had daily contact with patients. The mean age of LBD patients was 75.4y; 62% were male and 46% lived with a caregiver. The most common presentation of symptoms as reported by LBD caregivers was cognitive (48%), motor (39%) or both (13%). The first diagnoses given to the patients were Parkinson disease or other movement disorder (39%), Alzheimer disease or other cognitive disorder (36%), or mental illness (24%). Fifty percent of patients saw >3 doctors for more than 10 visits over the course of 1 year before an LBD diagnosis was established. Neurologists diagnosed most cases (62%), while primary care providers diagnosed only 6% of cases. No differences were found between the presentation of disease and the number of physicians, number of office visits, length of time to establish diagnosis, or type of doctor who finally made an LBD diagnosis. Caregivers viewed physicians as knowledgeable about disease manifestations and treatment options, but not about disease course/prognosis and available community resources and referrals.
Conclusions: These data highlight a need for increasing physician awareness and knowledge of LBD, which will facilitate accurate diagnosis and treatment. Community resources such as the Lewy Body Dementia Association may serve this end, while also providing practical information and support for caregivers.
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