Facilitating early diagnosis of dementia

Research project: Facilitating Early Diagnosis of Dementia (FED-D)

Lead Investigator: Professor Gill Livingston
Institution: University College London
Grant type: Project
Duration: 30 months
Amount: £150,830
Scientific Title: Facilitating Early Diagnosis of Dementia (FED-D)

Why did we fund this project?

Comments from members of our Research Network:

'I consider this to be an important project towards increasing the level of diagnosis. It should also help highlight the importance of early diagnosis to all healthcare professionals.'

'Definitely worth supporting. Earlier diagnosis is essential.'

'Fantastic - at last a potentially realistic means of helping people to get a diagnosis.'

What do we already know?

In 2015 there will be 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, but only about 40 per cent currently receive a diagnosis, keeping them from receiving a treatment,information and support. There may be many barriers to diagnosis, including people with memory problems being unwilling to visit their GP, GPs not recognising problems or making the correct referrals for help, or patients and their families concerned about the stigma of a dementia diagnosis.

Although it is UK national policy and a nationwide information campaign has been put to action to ensure early diagnosis, little progress has been made.

Previously, a similar project led to more people participating in bowel cancer screening after receiving letters from their GPs, indicating success of more personalised approaches.

What does this project involve?

This project will test an intervention, involving leaflets and personal letters explaining how to recognise potential memory problems in themselves or family members and how to address those problems.

Information will be sent from GPs to all patients aged 70 or older in the practice (except for patients already with a diagnosis of dementia).

Both successes and costs of this project will be assessed, including costs of diagnosis for each extra person and for people referred to memory clinics, in order to fully measure the benefits of this type of intervention.

How will this benefit people with dementia?

This project will help people to receive a timely diagnosis of dementia, allowing them to gain access to relevant information and support. The benefits of earlier diagnosis may include higher cognitive test scores, less distress and a delayed admission to care homes.

If successful, this project will have a nationwide impact on clinical practice and will inform policies.

Further reading