Applicability of diagnostic recommendations on dementia in family practice

Hein Van Hout, Myrra Vernooij-Dassen, Petra Poels, Willibrord Hoefnagels, Richard Grol

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Objective. To evaluate the applicability of the Dutch dementia guideline's recommendations, including the diagnostic criteria used by family practitioners, and to explore characteristics in both patients and family practitioners which are associated with the use of these recommendations. Design. An observational study was set up with a sample of 64 family practitioners who were instructed to use the Dutch national dementia guideline on incident-suspected dementia patients. The applicability was expressed as the percentage of recommendations applied. The use of diagnostic criteria was checked by comparing the family practitioners diagnoses with the diagnoses received by integrating the registered symptoms according to the DSM-III-R criteria. Associations between the number of recommendations applied, and demographic and clinical features were explored. Main outcome measures. (i) guideline applicability (ii) integrated use of DSM-III-R criteria. Results. 107 patients were included. The average application rate of the guideline's 31 diagnostic key recommendations was 86% or 24.8 (SD 3.6). The family practitioners diagnoses were consistent with the expected DSM-III-R diagnoses in 26% of the cases (κ=0.1). A greater number of patients in a practice was positively associated with the use of recommendations. A need for referral by the family practitioners, and patients' denial of dementia were negatively associated with the use of recommendations. The presence of dementia and a patient's age were negatively associated with the use of the DSM-III-R criteria. Conclusions. The applicability of the diagnostic recommendations of the national Dutch dementia guideline in a representative sample of family practitioners was promising. Nevertheless, the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-III-R, which were part of the dementia guideline, provided little or no guidance to the family practitioners in their diagnostic decision-making. Clinical and demographic variables explained some of the variation in the use of recommendations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-133
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

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