Observations Open letter to the prime minister and chief medical officer for England

There is no evidence base for proposed dementia screening

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e8588 (Published 27 December 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8588

Re: There is no evidence base for proposed dementia screening

Attempting to screen for dementia involves redfining the term ' screening'. One would only screen if there is a means of modifying or treating the condition being screened for with a view to prevent or delay its development or to ameliorate its effects by appropriate and timely therapy. On this criterion alone screening for dementia fails.

Screening provides patients and families with a misguided promise of early therapy when this is simply not the case.

Additionally there is no basis for doing any tests to look for dementia without informed consent.

Finally 'screening' would increase the anguish of patients and their families.

None of the foregoing however, would detract from the need to investigate when there is a clincal need for it.

Competing interests: No competing interests

08 January 2013
Ken Menon
The Ongar Surgery
High Street, Ongar, Essex CM5 9AA