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How do doctors deliver a diagnosis of dementia in memory clinics?

Dooley, J; Bass, N; McCabe, R; (2018) How do doctors deliver a diagnosis of dementia in memory clinics? British Journal of Psychiatry , 212 (4) pp. 239-245. 10.1192/bjp.2017.64. Green open access

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Abstract

Background Dementia diagnosis rates are increasing. Guidelines recommend that people with dementia should be told their diagnosis clearly and honestly to facilitate future planning. Aims To analyse how doctors deliver a dementia diagnosis in practice. Method Conversation analysis was conducted on 81 video-recorded diagnosis feedback meetings with 20 doctors from nine UK memory clinics. Results All doctors named dementia; 59% (n = 48) approached the diagnosis indirectly but delicately (‘this is dementia’) and 41% (n = 33) approached this directly but bluntly (‘you have Alzheimer's disease’). Direct approaches were used more often with people with lower cognitive test scores. Doctors emphasised that the dementia was mild and tended to downplay its progression, with some avoiding discussing prognosis altogether. Conclusions Doctors are naming dementia to patients. Direct approaches reflect attempts to ensure clear diagnosis. Downplaying and avoiding prognosis demonstrates concerns about preserving hope but may compromise understanding about and planning for the future.

Type: Article
Title: How do doctors deliver a diagnosis of dementia in memory clinics?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1192/bjp.2017.64
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.2017.64
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Psychiatry, ALZHEIMERS-DISEASE, HEALTH-CARE, COMMUNICATION, EXPERIENCES, CONSULTATIONS, ENCOUNTERS, AUTHORITY, PATIENT
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10049568
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