A feasibility study of a telephone-based screening service for mild cognitive impairment and its uptake by elderly people
The risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and subsequently dementia, increases with age. Early detection requires a comprehensive clinical examination, which is time consuming and expensive; a face-to-face examination can also be problematic for people living in rural areas which may result in unequal access to services. Telephone-based screening may provide a feasible method of identifying people who would benefit from a full diagnostic workup. We conducted a pilot study in which we offered telephone screening to all patients aged over 60 years at a health clinic in rural northern Norway (n = 259). Fifteen percent of them volunteered (n = 39). Screening identified a number of suspicious cases and we recommended to their general practitioner that 7 patients (18%) be offered a follow-up appointment. Surveys showed that the volunteers were generally positive towards the service, as was the general practitioner who found it helpful to be provided with such information about the elderly patients in his care. In addition, we surveyed the opinions of all general practitioners (n = 480) in the three northernmost counties of Norway concerning a potential service. There was a response rate of 40% (n = 190). Almost half of respondents (45%) would like to make use of such a service if it existed, and 34% believed that their patients would make use of it if available. The pilot study demonstrates the feasibility of telephone screening for clinically significant memory decline, and that users (general practitioners and the elderly) are positive towards such a service.
SiteringJournal of Telemedicine and Telecare 19(2013) nr. 1 s. 5-10
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