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How well are clinicians following dementia practice guidelines?

Rosen CS, Chow HC, Greenbaum MA, Finney JF, Moos RH, Sheikh JI, Yesavage JA. How well are clinicians following dementia practice guidelines? Alzheimer disease and associated disorders. 2002 Jan 1; 16(1):15-23.

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Although there are numerous clinical guidelines regarding the management of dementia, there have been few studies on their implementation in practice. Clinicians in six United States Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers (n = 200, 85% response rate) were surveyed regarding their use of practices recommended in the California Workgroup Guidelines for Alzheimer's Disease Management. The majority of providers (89% to 73%) reported that they routinely conducted neurological examinations, obtained histories from caregivers, discussed the diagnosis with the patient's family, discussed durable power of attorney, and made legally-required reports of drivers with dementia. Roughly two-thirds of providers said they routinely conducted cognitive screening examinations, screened for depression, reported elder abuse, and discussed care needs and decision-making issues with patients' families. Only half of all outpatient providers implemented caregiver support practices for at least half of their patients. Clinicians' choices of medications for cognition, mood, and behavior problems were broadly consistent with current practice guidelines. These results suggest possible priorities for quality improvement efforts. Further research is needed to clarify reasons for particular gaps between guidelines and practice and to identify specific targets for intervention.

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