Intended for healthcare professionals


Benefits from detecting dementia are dubious

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 13 April 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:916
  1. Laurie R Davis, general practitioner (lauriedavis{at}
  1. South Hermitage Surgery, South Hermitage, Shrewsbury SY3 7JS

    EDITOR—The diagnosis of dementia remains an unattractive achievement in primary care when the benefits are so unclear.1 2 The authors of the paper and the accompanying editorial say that patients are being denied optimal drugs and psychosocial interventions. The case for prescribing antidementia drugs is hardly overwhelming: they are relatively ineffective and expensive. Neither does a diagnosis of dementia open the door to a series of available social services, as the social needs are so dependent on other physical illnesses whose course is unpredictable.

    No mention is made of any drawbacks of dementia diagnosis—how many forgetful elderly people want to be labelled as “demented”? I need to see more evidence of benefit before I start looking hard for this diagnosis.


    • Competing interests None declared.


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