Background and purpose:
The incidence of Alzheimer disease (AD) is increasing in the United States, yet more than half of the people with AD are diagnosed late in the course of the disease. Most are identified outside primary care. New approaches to prevention and treatment mean that early detection of AD may improve the quality of life of those affected by the disease. Nurse practitioners (NPs) have an important role in increasing early diagnosis of AD.
The purpose of this systematic literature review is to identify health care system factors that contribute to missed or delayed diagnosis of dementia by primary care providers.
Articles were identified through a systematic electronic search of the following databases: MEDLINE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, CINAHL, and PsycINFO.
Conclusions and implications for practice:
Results indicate considerable variation in the diagnostic accuracy of dementia by primary care providers. Missed or underdiagnosis of dementia results from organizational, provider, and patient factors. New treatments are under investigation that may slow the progression of AD much better than current therapy, emphasizing the need to improve early detection by clinicians, especially primary care NPs.