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Effectiveness of an intervention to facilitate prompt referral to memory clinics in the United Kingdom: Cluster randomised controlled trial

Livingston, G; Baio, G; Sommerlad, A; de Lusignan, S; Poulimenos, S; Morris, S; Rait, G; (2017) Effectiveness of an intervention to facilitate prompt referral to memory clinics in the United Kingdom: Cluster randomised controlled trial. PLOS MEDICINE , 14 (3) 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002252. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Most people with dementia do not receive timely diagnosis, preventing them from making informed plans about their future and accessing services. Many countries have a policy to increase timely diagnosis, but trials aimed at changing general practitioner (GP) practice have been unsuccessful. We aimed to assess whether a GP’s personal letter, with an evidence-based leaflet about overcoming barriers to accessing help for memory problems—aimed at empowering patients and families—increases timely dementia diagnosis and patient presentation to general practice. METHODS AND FINDING: Multicentre, cluster-randomised controlled trial with raters masked to an online computer-generated randomisation system assessing 1 y outcome. We recruited 22 general practices (August 2013–September 2014) and 13 corresponding secondary care memory services in London, Hertfordshire, and Essex, United Kingdom. Eligible patients were aged ≥70 y, without a known diagnosis of dementia, living in their own homes. There were 6,387 such patients in 11 intervention practices and 8,171 in the control practices. The primary outcome was cognitive severity on Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE). Main secondary outcomes were proportion of patients consulting their GP with suspected memory disorders and proportion of those referred to memory clinics. There was no between-group difference in cognitive severity at diagnosis (99 intervention, mean MMSE = 22.04, 95% confidence intervals (CIs) = 20.95 to 23.13; 124 control, mean MMSE = 22.59, 95% CI = 21.58 to 23.6; p = 0.48). GP consultations with patients with suspected memory disorders increased in intervention versus control group (odds ratio = 1.41; 95% CI = 1.28, 1.54). There was no between-group difference in the proportions of patients referred to memory clinics (166, 2.5%; 220, 2.7%; p = .077 respectively). The study was limited as we do not know whether the additional patients presenting to GPs had objective as well as subjective memory problems and therefore should have been referred. In addition, we aimed to empower patients but did not do anything to change GP practice. CONCLUSIONS: Our intervention to access timely dementia diagnosis resulted in more patients presenting to GPs with memory problems, but no diagnoses increase. We are uncertain as to the reason for this and do not know whether empowering the public and targeting GPs would have resulted in a successful intervention. Future interventions should be targeted at both patients and GPs.

Type: Article
Title: Effectiveness of an intervention to facilitate prompt referral to memory clinics in the United Kingdom: Cluster randomised controlled trial
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002252
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002252
Language: English
Additional information: © 2017 Livingston et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Mini-mental-state, alzheimers-disease, primary-care, dementia, diagnosis, program, health, cohort
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
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
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Applied Health Research
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Primary Care and Population Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Statistical Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1546851
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