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Disclosing the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) to a patient is controversial. There is significant stigma associated with a diagnosis of AD or dementia in China, but the attitude of the society toward disclosure of such a diagnosis had not been formally evaluated prior to our study. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate the attitude toward disclosing an AD diagnosis to patients in China with cognitive impairment from their caregivers, and the factors that may affect their attitude.
We designed a 17-item questionnaire and administered this questionnaire to caregivers, who accompanied patients with cognitive impairment or dementia in three major hospitals in Shanghai, China. The caregiver's attitude toward disclosing the diagnosis of AD as evaluated by the questionnaire was compared to that of disclosing the diagnosis of terminal cancer.
A majority (95.7%) of the 175 interviewed participants (mean 14.2 years of education received) wished to know their own diagnosis if they were diagnosed with AD, and 97.6% preferred the doctor to tell their family members if they were diagnosed with AD. If a family member of the participants suffered from AD, 82.9% preferred to have the diagnosis disclosed to the patient. “Cognitive impairment” was the most accepted term by caregivers to disclose AD diagnosis in Chinese.
This study suggests most of the well-educated individuals in a Chinese urban area favored disclosing the diagnosis when they or their family members were diagnosed with AD.
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