Psychiatrists Adept at Diagnosing and Treating Neurodegenerative Diseases

Psychiatrists are adept at diagnosing and managing patients with mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer disease and dementia.

Psychiatrists are highly engaged in the diagnosis and management of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or mild Alzheimer disease (AD) and dementia, according to study results presented at Psych Congress 2022, held from September 17 to 20, 2022, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Researchers sought to better understand the psychiatrist’s role in treating patients with MCI or mild AD and dementia. They initiated an anonymous online survey that included 50 US-based psychiatrists who treat 25 or more patients with MCI or mild AD and dementia per month. The psychiatrists reported referring 9% of these patients to another clinician for diagnosis, and personally diagnosed 67% of patients. They noted that 23% of these patients had been diagnosed by another clinician.

The survey revealed that 43% of the time, patients first discussed symptoms at appointments to specifically address MCI or mild AD and dementia symptoms, 24% of the time they discussed symptoms at well-visit appointments, and 30% of the time they discussed symptoms at appointments made for other conditions. At the time of diagnosis, the survey showed psychiatrists discuss MCI or mild AD and dementia causes (72%), progression (72%), management strategies (80%), and treatments (86%).

The most common treatments recommended for newly diagnosed patients included social interaction (86%) and lifestyle improvements (94%). The survey acknowledged that about 12% of patients are referred to other health care professionals for MCI or mild AD and dementia treatment.

Psychiatrists are highly engaged in diagnosing and managing patients with MCI [or] mild AD [and] dementia with the potential to play a greater role in early diagnosis and treatment.

The majority of psychiatrists report advanced formal training in dementia care and that they followed American Psychiatric Association guidelines for MCI or mild AD and dementia management.

Study authors conclude, “Psychiatrists are highly engaged in diagnosing and managing patients with MCI [or] mild AD [and] dementia with the potential to play a greater role in early diagnosis and treatment.”

Disclosure: This research was supported by Novo Nordisk, Inc. Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.

References:

Sabharwal A, Brunton S, Pruzin J, Alford S, Hamersky C, Gopalkrishna G. Mapping the patient journey in diagnosing and treating patients with mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer’s disease dementia through interactions with psychiatrists. Abstract presented at: Psych Congress 2022, September 17-20, 2022; New Orleans, LA. Poster 44.