Organisational aspects and assessment practices of Australian memory clinics: an Australian Dementia Network (ADNeT) Survey

BMJ Open. 2021 Feb 9;11(2):e038624. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-038624.


Objectives: Conducting a national survey of clinicians and administrators from specialised dementia assessment services (memory clinics) in Australia to examine their current organisational aspects and assessment procedures and inform clinical tool harmonisation as part of the Australian Dementia Network-memory clinics project.

Design: A cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Public and private memory clinics across Australia.

Participants: 150 individual clinicians completed the survey between May and August 2019. Responses could be given anonymously. Most clinics were publicly funded services (83.2%) and in metropolitan regions (70.9%).

Outcome measures: Descriptive data on organisational aspects of memory clinics (eg, waiting times, staffing); the three most commonly used assessment tools per assessment type (eg, self-report) and cognitive domain (eg, attention).

Results: Since the last national survey in 2009, the number of memory clinics across Australia has increased substantially but considerable variability has remained with respect to funding structure, staffing and assessment procedures. The average clinic employed 2.4 effective full-time staff (range 0.14-14.0). The reported waiting time for an initial assessment ranged from 1 week to 12 months with a median of 7 weeks. While most clinics (97%) offered follow-up assessments for their clients, only a few (31%) offered any form of cognitive intervention. We identified over 100 different cognitive assessment tools that were used at least 'sometimes', with widespread use of well-established core screening tools and a subset of common neuropsychological tests.

Conclusion: This paper presents a current snapshot of Australian memory clinics, showing considerable heterogeneity with some common core elements. These results will inform the development of national memory clinic guidelines. Furthermore, our data make a valuable contribution to the international comparison of clinical practice standards and advocate for greater harmonisation to ensure high-quality dementia care.

Keywords: dementia; geriatric medicine; quality in health care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dementia* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Memory*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires