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05-06-2012 | General practice | Article

GP care equals memory clinics


BMJ 2012; 344: e3086

MedWire News: GPs are as effective at coordinating treatment and care for patients with mild-to-moderate dementia as specialist memory clinics, study findings suggest.

The research, published in the BMJ, shows that quality of life and caregivers' burden did not significantly differ between 175 patients who were randomly assigned to receive care from a GP or a memory clinic in the Netherlands between 2007 and 2009.

The groups did not significantly differ after 6 and 12 months of follow-up on the Alzheimer's disease instrument scores for patients or the sense of competence questionnaire scores for caregivers.

"Other factors can and should thus determine the preference for one provider over the other - for example, patients' and caregivers' preferences or regional or national planning to concentrate specific services," say Dr Els Meeuwsen (Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, the Netherlands) and co-authors.

"Cost minimisation may also be a strong argument if quality of care can be shown to be guaranteed."

The researchers say their findings should fuel ongoing debate on the best strategy for post-diagnosis treatment and care, including discussion into the use of multidisciplinary memory clinics in the National Dementia Strategy for England.

"A different and potentially very promising direction would be to start to integrate the resources of memory clinics and general practitioners and to combine their knowledge and experience to build truly integrated dementia care that may optimally serve the increasing number of patients with dementia in the future," suggest Meeuwsen et al.

MedWire News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Lynda Williams