Summaries for Patients |

Screening for Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement FREE

[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

The full report is titled “Screening for Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement.” It is in the 3 June 2014 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 160, pages 791-797). The author is V.A. Moyer, on behalf of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

This article was published online first at www.annals.org on 25 March 2014.

Summaries for Patients are a service provided by Annals to help patients better understand the complicated and often mystifying language of modern medicine.

Summaries for Patients are presented for informational purposes only. These summaries are not a substitute for advice from your own medical provider. If you have questions about this material, or need medical advice about your own health or situation, please contact your physician. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the American College of Physicians.

Ann Intern Med. 2014;160(11):I-20. doi:10.7326/P14-9017
Text Size: A A A

Who developed these recommendations?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) developed these recommendations. The USPSTF is a group of health experts that reviews published research and makes recommendations about preventive health care.

What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

Cognitive impairment refers to problems with memory and thinking. Dementia is cognitive impairment that interferes with normal daily activities. Approximately 5 of every 100 Americans aged 71 to 79 years, 24 of every 100 Americans aged 80 to 89 years, and 37 of every 100 Americans aged 90 years or older have dementia. Poor memory alone is not dementia. Some decline in memory as people age is normal.

There is no cure for dementia. However, drugs may modestly slow its progression. Nondrug therapies may improve behavior and delay the need for nursing home care. Doctors should consider dementia if patients report problems with memory and thinking. However, it is unclear whether primary care doctors should screen for cognitive impairment in older patients if no such problems are reported.

In 2003, the USPSTF concluded that there was not enough known about the benefits and harms of screening for dementia in older adults and did not recommend for or against it. The USPSTF wanted to update the recommendation based on research published since 2003.

How did the USPSTF develop these recommendations?

The USPSTF reviewed published research to evaluate the benefits and harms of screening for cognitive impairment.

What did the authors find?

No studies directly evaluated the benefits and harms of screening for cognitive impairment. Studies do show that screening tests can identify cognitive impairment. Some evidence shows that dementia drugs can slow cognitive impairment but not enough to meaningfully affect patient function. Few studies assessed nondrug therapies, and no studies evaluated the effect of screening on decision making by patients or their caregivers.

The potential harms of screening for cognitive impairment include the psychological effects of a cognitive impairment diagnosis and adverse effects of drugs that may be prescribed. Serious side effects include slow heart rate and falls.

What does the USPSTF recommend that patients and doctors do?

The USPSTF concludes that not enough is known to make a recommendation about screening for cognitive impairment in older adults.

What are the cautions related to these recommendations?

These recommendations apply only to older adults without noticeable problems with memory or thinking. If patients or their relatives notice memory problems, they should tell their doctors because testing for cognitive impairment may be indicated.





Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).


Submit a Comment/Letter
Submit a Comment/Letter

Summary for Patients

Clinical Slide Sets

Terms of Use

The In the Clinic® slide sets are owned and copyrighted by the American College of Physicians (ACP). All text, graphics, trademarks, and other intellectual property incorporated into the slide sets remain the sole and exclusive property of the ACP. The slide sets may be used only by the person who downloads or purchases them and only for the purpose of presenting them during not-for-profit educational activities. Users may incorporate the entire slide set or selected individual slides into their own teaching presentations but may not alter the content of the slides in any way or remove the ACP copyright notice. Users may make print copies for use as hand-outs for the audience the user is personally addressing but may not otherwise reproduce or distribute the slides by any means or media, including but not limited to sending them as e-mail attachments, posting them on Internet or Intranet sites, publishing them in meeting proceedings, or making them available for sale or distribution in any unauthorized form, without the express written permission of the ACP. Unauthorized use of the In the Clinic slide sets will constitute copyright infringement.


Want to Subscribe?

Learn more about subscription options

Related Articles
Related Point of Care
Topic Collections
PubMed Articles
Forgot your password?
Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a reminder to the email address on record.