Background: We aimed to explore clinicians' communication, including the discussion of diagnosis, cause, prognosis and care planning, in routine post-diagnostic testing consultations with patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).
Methods: Thematic content analysis was used to analyze audiotaped consultations in which 10 clinicians (eight neurologists and two geriatricians) from 7 memory clinics, disclosed diagnostic information to 13 MCI patients and their care partners. We assessed clinician-patient communication regarding diagnostic label, cause, prognosis and care planning to identify core findings.
Results: Core findings were: clinicians 1) differed in how they informed about the MCI label; 2) tentatively addressed cause of symptoms; 3) (implicitly) steered against further biomarker testing; 4) rarely informed about the patient's risk of developing dementia; 5) often informed about the expected course of symptoms emphasizing potential symptom stabilization and/or improvement, and; 6) did not engage in a conversation on long-term (care) planning.
Discussion: Clinicians' information provision about the underlying cause, prognosis and implications for long-term (care) planning in MCI could be more specific. Since most patients and care partners have a strong need to understand the patient's symptoms, and for information on the prognosis and implications for the future, clinicians' current approach may not match with those needs.