An evaluation of primary care led dementia diagnostic services in Bristol

BMC Health Serv Res. 2014 Nov 29;14:592. doi: 10.1186/s12913-014-0592-3.


Background: Typically people who go to see their GP with a memory problem will be initially assessed and those patients who seem to be at risk will be referred onto a memory clinic. The demographic forces mean that memory services will need to expand to meet demand. An alternative may be to expand the role of primary care in dementia diagnosis and care. The aim of this study was to contrast patient, family member and professional experience of primary and secondary (usual) care led memory services.

Methods: A qualitative, participatory study. A topic guide was developed by the peer and professional panels. Data were collected through peer led interviews of people with dementia, their family members and health professionals.

Results: Eleven (21%) of the 53 GP practices in Bristol offered primary care led dementia services. Three professional panels were held and were attended by 9 professionals; nine carers but no patients were involved in the three peer panels. These panels identified four main themes: GPs rarely make independent dementia diagnosis; GPs and memory nurses work together; patients and carers generally experience a high quality diagnostic service; an absence of post diagnostic support. Evidence relating to these themes was collected through a total of 46 participants took part; 23 (50%) in primary care and 23 (50%) in the memory service.

Conclusions: Patients and carers were generally satisfied with either primary or secondary care led approaches to dementia diagnosis. Their major concern, shared with many health care professionals, was a lack of post diagnostic support.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Dementia / diagnosis*
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Diagnostic Services / organization & administration
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Secondary Care / organization & administration*
  • United Kingdom