Vol. 15 nº 2 - Apr/May/Jun de 2021
Original Article Páginas: 210 a 215

Tertiary center referral delay of patients with dementia in Southern Brazil: associated factors and potential solutions

Authors Brunna de Bem Jaeger1,2; Milena Lemos Oliveira3; Raphael Machado Castilhos1; Márcia Lorena Fagundes Chaves1,2,4


keywords: dementia, referral and consultation, delayed diagnosis, general practitioners, educational activities, information dissemination.

Early dementia diagnosis has many benefits and is a priority. In Brazil, most cases are diagnosed by a specialist.
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to study the average time from disease onset to specialist assessment and related factors; we also propose potential strategies to deal with this delay.
METHODS: This was a cross-sectional database study in 245 patients with dementia from an outpatient clinic in a tertiary university hospital in Southern Brazil, which only assesses individuals from the Unified Health System (SUS). The outcome was time from symptoms onset to specialist assessment, reported by the informants. Individuals were separated into two groups: less and more than 1 year to specialist assessment. Multivariable analysis was used to test the potential related factors associated with delayed specialist assessment.
RESULTS: Mean±SD of time from symptoms onset to specialist assessment was 3.3±3.3 years. In the unadjusted analysis, individuals who were assessed before 1 year were more often diagnosed with vascular dementia, had more sudden and subacute onset, neuropsychiatric symptoms at presentation, rapid progression, and alcohol and antipsychotics use (p<0.05). In multivariate analysis, the effects of personality changes and onset presentation persisted, even when controlling for other variables.
CONCLUSION: We found a long time from disease onset to specialist assessment, and those with personality changes and faster presentation were referred earlier. Improving the diagnostic capability of general practitioners, mass educational campaigns and transmission of knowledge by experts are some potential strategies to deal with delay of dementia diagnosis.


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