Errors in the scoring and reporting of cognitive screening instruments administered in primary care

Written by Cannon P & Larner AJ

Aim: To measure the frequency of scoring and reporting errors in cognitive screening instruments administered in the primary care setting in consecutive referrals to a dedicated secondary care memory clinic. Methods: Using a simple ad hoc classification, referral letters from primary care mentioning cognitive screening instrument use were classified as: unequivocal, incorrect/ambiguous or incomplete. Results: Overall, reported test scores were either ambiguous/incorrect or incomplete in 23% of cases, with higher individual frequencies for two screening instruments recommended for use in primary care, the Six-item Cognitive Impairment Test (26%) and the General Practitioner Assessment of Cognition (32%). Conclusion: Errors are not infrequent in the scoring and reporting of cognitive screening instruments administered in primary care. More training in their correct use and scoring is required.
Political directives have placed an increasing emphasis on the identification of patients with dementia in the primary care setting in the UK [1,2]. This emphasis recognizes, and is perhaps prompted by, the discrepancy between numbers of observed and expected diagnoses of dementia in the UK population, the ‘dementia diagnosis gap’.

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