What Are Neurologists' Attitudes toward Mild Cognitive Impairment as a Diagnosis?

Jason Karlawish, MD, associate professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Center’s Education and Information Transfer Core, associate director of the Memory Disorders Clinic, University of Pennsylvania, and colleagues surveyed 420 members of the Geriatric and Behavioral Neurology sections of the American Academy of Neurology, using phone and online surveys, to “assess how neurologists are diagnosing and treating patients with mild cognitive symptoms and how they view MCI as a clinical diagnosis.”

They reported that:

88% of respondents reported at least monthly encounters with patients who were experiencing mild cognitive symptoms

90% recognize MCI as a clinical diagnosis

70% use the MCI diagnostic billing code

88% reported that they routinely recommended monitoring and follow-up

78% provided information on the importance of physical exercise; 75% did the same regarding mental exercise

Only 27% of respondents regularly provide patients with information about support services, fewer still (15%) provided patients with a written summary of their findings

70% prescribe cholinesterase inhibitors for some of their patients

85% said that making a diagnosis of MCI helps motivate patients to engage in risk reduction activities

65% said medications are useful for treating MCI

21% said that instead of making a diagnosis of MCI, it is better to tell the patient that he or she has early Alzheimer’s disease