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Researchers Shed Light on Screening Practices Benefits

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Researchers Shed Light on Screening Practices Benefits

A recent study shows that the community-wide screening efforts for dementia offer no economic, emotional of clinical benefits. According to professor Carol Brayne, the author of the study, there is no evidence that the screening efforts for dementia lead to better clinical evolution or better psychological and social outcomes. Furthermore, Brayne says that the screening doesn’t bring any new medical knowledge of the disorder. Brayne and her research team are from the Cambridge Institute of Public Health, from the United Kingdom. Their research was presented at an annual Alzheimer’s conference, held in Boston, in the United States.

There have been numerous debates among policymakers and health advocacy groups regarding the benefit of community-wide dementia screening and its economic and medical implication. Due to the fact that Alzheimer’s is currently an incurable disease, most people argue that community-wide screening isn’t needed. However, some researchers affirm that almost 50% of people suffering from dementia are undiagnosed. Professor Brayne affirmed during the conference that there is a major lack of evidence that supports the benefits of community-wide screening.

In order to fulfill the current study, the research team analyzed and reviewed all of the available studies regarding community-wide dementia screening. Of all the studies analyzed, only 6 presented information about the cost of screening and its economic implications. However, there were no studies regarding the psychological and social outcomes. According to the results of the study, community-wide screening requires vast amounts of economic resources, while it offer little to no value compared to the current screening methods.

The author of the book The Alzheimer’s Action Plan, professor Murali Doraiswamy from the Duke University Medical Center, believes that professor Brayne’s study brings empowering information. According to Doraiswamy, screening practices should meet two important criteria. The first criteria is a high degree of accuracy. The second criteria is that the results of the screening practice should bring benefits to the outcome of an individual’s disease.

Doraiswamy affirms that the value of most screening tests if overrated. Researchers are beginning to understand the impact screening practices have on individual patients – leading the to undergo unnecessary procedures and raising  their anxiety levels. However, he adds that the current study doesn’t suggest that  troubling symptoms should be ignored. According to the research team, the families and friends who suspect that their loved ones suffer from symptoms related to dementia should consult their physician. Furthermore, people who have a member of their family suffering from dementia are also at high risk.

According to professor Heather Snyder, the director of Medical and Scientific Operations at Alzheimer’s Association, there are numerous disorders that can cause dementia-like symptoms. Disorders such as hormone imbalances, the use of many drugs for treatment, and nutrition deficits can also cause memory problems. However, these disorders can be treated, unlike Alzheimer’s.

Professor Brayne concludes that her future research will focus on groups with higher-risk.