Background: Driving constitutes a very important aspect of daily life and is dependent on cognitive functions such as attention, visuo-spatial skills and memory, which are often compromised in dementia. Therefore, the driving fitness of patients with dementia needs to be addressed by physicians and those that are deemed unfit should not be allowed to continue driving.
Objective: We aimed at investigating to what extent physicians assess driving fitness in dementia patients and determinant factors for revoking of their licenses.
Methods: This study includes 15113 patients with newly diagnosed dementia and driver's license registered in the Swedish Dementia Registry (SveDem). The main outcomes were reporting to the licensing authority and making an agreement about driving eligibility with the patients.
Results: Physicians had not taken any action in 16% of dementia patients, whereas 9% were reported to the authority to have their licenses revoked. Males (OR = 3.04), those with an MMSE score between 20-24 (OR = 1.35) and 10-19 (OR = 1.50), patients with frontotemporal (OR = 3.09) and vascular dementia (OR = 1.26) were more likely to be reported to the authority.
Conclusion: For the majority of patients with dementia, driving fitness was assessed. Nevertheless, physicians did not address the issue in a sizeable proportion of dementia patients. Type of dementia, cognitive status, age, sex and burden of comorbidities are independent factors associated with the assessment of driving fitness in patients with dementia. Increased knowledge on how these factors relate to road safety may pave the way for more specific guidelines addressing the issue of driving in patients with dementia.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Dementia; agreement; cognitive status; driving license; frontotemporal dementia.