Accuracy of general hospital dementia diagnoses in England: Sensitivity, specificity, and predictors of diagnostic accuracy 2008-2016

Alzheimers Dement. 2018 Jul;14(7):933-943. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2018.02.012. Epub 2018 Apr 25.


Introduction: Recognizing dementia in general hospitals allows for tailored care. We aimed to assess hospital dementia diagnosis accuracy, changes over time, and predictors of correct identification.

Method: Retrospective cohort study of people over 65 years, using data from a large mental health care database as gold standard, linked to 2008-2016 English hospital data.

Results: In 21,387 people who had 138,455 admissions, we found sensitivity and specificity of dementia recording, respectively, to be 78.0% and 92.0% for each person's complete records, and 63.3% and 96.6% for each nonelective admission. Diagnostic sensitivity increased between 2008 and 16. Accurate general hospital recording of the presence of dementia was lower in ethnic minority groups, younger, single people, and those with physical illness.

Discussion: Dementia diagnosis recording in general hospitals is increasing but remains less likely in some groups. Clinicians should be aware of this inequity and have a higher index of clinical suspicion in these groups.

Keywords: Diagnosis; Epidemiology; Hospital records; Medical records; Prevalence.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hospitals, General*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity