Would You Screen This Patient for Cognitive Impairment?

Annals Beyond the Guidelines

Dementia, according to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, is defined by a significant decline in 1 or more cognitive domains that interferes with a person’s independence in daily activities. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) differs from dementia in that the impairment is not sufficient to interfere with independence. For the purposes of this discussion, cognitive impairment (CI) includes both dementia and MCI. Various screening tests are available for CI. These tests ask patients to perform a series of tasks that assess 1 or more domains of cognitive function or ask a caregiver to report on the patient’s abilities. A positive result on a screening test does not equate to a diagnosis of CI; rather, it should lead to additional testing to confirm the diagnosis. On review of the evidence, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concluded in 2020 that the evidence was insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for CI in older adults (“I statement”). The USPSTF did clarify that although there is insufficient evidence, there may be important reasons to identify CI. In this article, 2 experts review the available evidence to answer the following questions: What screening tools are available, and how effective are they in identifying patients with CI? What interventions are available for patients found to have CI, to what extent do they improve patient outcomes, and what, if any, negative effects occur? And, would they recommend screening for CI, and why or why not?


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Annals Beyond the Guidelines

From Annals of Internal Medicine (annals.org), Beyond the Guidelines is an educational feature based on recent guidelines. Each considers a patient (or patients) who "falls between the cracks" of available evidence and for whom the optimal clinical course in unclear. Presented at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) Grand Rounds, each conference reviews the background evidence and experts then discuss the patient(s) and field audience questions. Videos of the interviews and conference, the slide presentation, and a CME/MOC activity accompany each module.