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Aging Ment Health. 2004 Sep;8(5):422-9.

Rural practitioners' experiences in dementia diagnosis and treatment.

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University of Kansas School of Nursing, 3901 Rainbow Blvd., Kansas City, KS 66160-7502, USA.


When diagnosis of dementia occurs earlier in the disease process, more time is available for treatment aimed at maintaining patient function and delaying decline, and for family education about the disease and its management. Primary care providers often, however, face challenges in making timely diagnoses. Nineteen practitioners in mostly rural areas of a mid-western state were interviewed about their experiences in diagnosis and treatment, to develop a more comprehensive understanding of barriers encountered by providers in non-metropolitan areas. Participants estimated that the time from symptom onset to diagnosis ranged from several months to one year, largely dependant upon family recognition. Limitations in access to consultants and limited or non-existent community support and education resources were major impediments to diagnosis and treatment, respectively. Like their colleagues in more urban communities, denial among family members, or families who were absent or uncooperative, created additional challenges for providers in making and communicating diagnoses and in supporting home-based or institutional care. Conversely, supportive and motivated families played a central role in positive patient care experiences. Participants agreed that support and education services were important for family caregivers, but generally had few resources to offer families, which constrained their ability to provide optimal care. Identifying challenges faced by rural practitioners is essential to planning appropriate interventions for consultative support and educational outreach.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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