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Strategies for the involvement of primary care in the management of patients with presumed or diagnosed dementia are heterogeneous across Europe. We wanted to explore attitudes of primary care physicians (PCPs) when managing dementia: (i) the most popular cognitive tests, (ii) who had the right to initiate or continue cholinesterase inhibitor or memantine treatment, and (iii) the relationship between the permissiveness of these rules/guidelines and PCP's approach in the dementia investigations and assessment.
Key informant survey. Setting: Primary care practices across 25 European countries. Subjects: Four hundred forty-five PCPs responded to a self-administered questionnaire. Two-step cluster analysis was performed using characteristics of the informants and the responses to the survey. Main outcome measures: Two by two contingency tables with odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were used to assess the association between categorical variables. A multinomial logistic regression model was used to assess the association of multiple variables (age class, gender, and perceived prescription rules) with the PCPs’ attitude of “trying to establish a diagnosis of dementia on their own.”
Discrepancies between rules/guidelines and attitudes to dementia management was found in many countries. There was a strong association between the authorization to prescribe dementia drugs and pursuing dementia diagnostic work-up (odds ratio, 3.45; 95% CI 2.28–5.23).
Differing regulations about who does what in dementia management seemed to affect PCP's engagement in dementia investigations and assessment. PCPs who were allowed to prescribe dementia drugs also claimed higher engagement in dementia work-up than PCPs who were not allowed to prescribe.
A Quick Test of Cognitive Speed (AQT) is a brief test that can identify cognitive impairment. AQT has been validated in Arabic, English, Greek, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish, and Swedish. The aim of this study was to develop Italian criterion-referenced norms for AQT.
AQT consists of three test plates where the patient shall rapidly name (1) the color of 40 blue, red, yellow, or black squares (AQT color), (2) the form of 40 black figures (circles, squares, triangles, or rectangles; AQT form), (3) the color and form of 40 figures (consisting of previous colors and forms; AQT color–form). The AQT test was administered to 121 Italian cognitively healthy primary care patients (age range: 45–90 years). Their mean Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score was 28.8 ± 0.9 points (range 26–30 points). AQT naming times in seconds were used for developing preliminary criterion cut-off times for different age groups.
Age was found to have a significant moderate positive correlation with AQT naming times color (r = 0.65, p < 0.001), form (r = 0.53, p < 0.001), color–form (r = 0.63, p < 0.001) and a moderate negative correlation with MMSE score (r = –0.44, p < 0.001) and AQT naming times differed significantly between younger (45–55 years old), older (56–70 years old), and the oldest (71–90 years old) participants. Years of education correlated positively but weakly with MMSE score (r = 0.27, p = 0.003) and negatively but weakly with AQT color (r = –0.16, p = ns), form (r = –0.24, p = 0.007), and color–form (r = –0.19, p = 0.005). We established preliminary cut-off times for the AQT test based on +1 and +2 standard deviations according to the approach in other languages and settings.
This is the first Italian normative AQT study. Future studies of AQT – a test useful for dementia screening in primary care – will eventually refine cut-off times for normality balancing sensitivity and specificity in cognitive diagnostics.
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