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In the above mentioned article by Michalowsky et al., Johannes Hertel was mistakenly omitted from the authorship list. This error has been corrected in the print, PDF and HTML versions of the original article.
It is well-known that dementia is undiagnosed, resulting in the exclusion of patients without a formal diagnosis of dementia in many studies. Objectives of the present analyses were (1) to determine healthcare resource utilization and (2) costs of patients screened positive for dementia with a formal diagnosis and those without a formal diagnosis of dementia, and (3) to analyze the association between having received a formal dementia diagnosis and healthcare costs.
This analysis is based on 240 primary care patients who screened positive for dementia. Within the baseline assessment, individual data about the utilization of healthcare services were assessed. Costs were assessed from the perspective of insurance, solely including direct costs. Associations between dementia diagnosis and costs were evaluated using multiple linear regression models.
Patients formally diagnosed with dementia were treated significantly more often by a neurologist, but less often by all other outpatient specialists, and received anti-dementia drugs and day care more often. Diagnosed patients underwent shorter and less frequent planned in-hospital treatments. Dementia diagnosis was significantly associated with higher costs of anti-dementia drug treatment, but significantly associated with less total medical care costs, which valuated to be € 5,123 compared, to € 5,565 for undiagnosed patients. We found no association between dementia diagnosis and costs of evidence-based non-medication treatment or total healthcare cost (€ 7,346 for diagnosed vs. € 6,838 for undiagnosed patients).
There are no significant differences in total healthcare cost between diagnosed and undiagnosed patients. Dementia diagnosis is beneficial for receiving cost-intensive anti-dementia drug treatments, but is currently insufficient to ensure adequate non-medication treatment for community-dwelling patients.
Neuropsychiatric symptoms are major determinants for caregiver distress and institutionalization in dementia. Little is known about the prevalence of neuropsychiatric symptoms and their association with use of medication, caregiver distress, and resource utilization in primary care.
We assessed frequency of neuropsychiatric symptoms in a sample retrieved from a primary care intervention study. Patients were screened for dementia by their primary care physicians. A study nurse assessed neuropsychiatric symptoms in 176 patients using the neuropsychiatric inventory (NPI) through face-to-face interviews by proxy during home visits. In addition, data on global cognition (MMSE), quality of life (QoL-AD), resource utilization in dementia (RUD), caregiver distress (BIS), and use of psychotropic medication in patients were obtained. We used linear mixed effect models taking into account the clustering of patients within general physician practices.
Clinically relevant neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPI score ≥ 4) occurred in about 53% of the patients. Higher NPI scores were significantly associated with more severe cognitive impairment, higher caregiver distress, and higher utilization of caregiver resources by patients but not with a formal diagnosis of dementia from the primary care physician. Use of antipsychotics was associated with higher NPI scores, particularly in non-psychotic domains.
Neuropsychiatric symptoms in a primary care cohort screened positive for dementia were associated with resource utilization and distress of caregivers. In contrast to guideline recommendations, the use of antipsychotics was associated with non-psychotic domains of behavioral symptoms. These findings underscore the relevance of neuropsychiatric symptoms for the design of future interventions in primary care.