‘Doing things differently’—working towards distributed responsibility within memory assessment services

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To compare initial diagnostic hypotheses made by Allied Health Professionals (AHP) (mental health nurses, occupational therapists and social workers) with subsequent formal multidisciplinary formulation based upon the full possession of investigations, neuropsychological tests and brain imaging. Design Prospective analysis.


Prospective analysis.


Home-based assessments, secondary care based multidisciplinary memory clinic.


90 consecutive referrals over a 3-month period.


Fifty eight patients (64.4%) were diagnosed by the multi-disciplinary team as having a dementia. Twenty (34%) were classified as Alzheimer's disease, 28 (49%) of mixed sub-type and 9 (16%) of vascular origin. Together, AHP's were able to detect dementia with 91% accuracy (Kappa 0.81) sensitivity was 0.88 and specificity 0.97. The diagnostic accuracy for each professional group ranged from 88% to 93% (Kappa 74–90%).


In this study, structured initial assessment by AHP's working in a Memory Assessment Service was shown to be an accurate method of determining a diagnosis of cognitive impairment, when compared with formal MDT judgment. It is suggested that such distributed responsibility affords a viable option for the future detection of early dementia. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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