Is drug treatment for dementia followed up in primary care? A Swedish study of dementia clinics and referring primary care centres.

Research paper by Lars L Sonde, Kristina K Johnell

Indexed on: 26 Feb '13Published on: 26 Feb '13Published in: PloS one


It is largely unknown how the medical treatment of patients diagnosed with dementia is followed up in primary care. Therefore, we studied patient medical records from two dementia clinics and from the referring primary care centres.A retrospective study of 241 patients was conducted from April to October 2011 in north west Stockholm, Sweden. Over half (51.5%) of the patients had Alzheimer's disease (AD), the remainder had mixed AD/vascular dementia (VaD). Eighty-four medical reports from primary care (35% of the study group) were analysed at follow-up 18 months after diagnosis.All four dementia drugs available on the Swedish market (three cholinesterase inhibitors [donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine] and memantine) were prescribed at the two dementia clinics. The most commonly used dementia drug was galantamine. There were differences between the two dementia clinics in preference and combination of drugs and of treatment given to male and female patients. At follow-up, 84% were still on dementia medication. Drug use was followed up by the general practitioners (GPs) in two-thirds of the cases. Eighteen per cent of the GPs' medical records made no reference to the patient's dementia or treatment even though dementia drugs were included in the list of medications prescribed.The results indicate that the Swedish guidelines for treatment of cognitive symptoms in AD are being followed in primary care. However, documentation of follow-up of drug treatment was sometimes insufficient, which calls for development of guidelines for complete medical records and medication lists.