Patients and families desire a patient to be told the diagnosis of dementia: A survey by questionnaire on a Dutch memory clinic

Paul L.J. Dautzenberg, Rob J. Van Marum, Roger Van Der Hammen, Heleen A. Palaing

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Background: Controversy exists as to whether dementia patients should be told their diagnosis. Objective: This study examined as to whether, both patients with subdued memory impairment and their accompanying relatives want a diagnosis of dementia or somatic disease disclosed to the referred patient. Method: Fifty consecutive out-patients referred to a memory clinic and their accompanying relatives filled in a questionnaire regarding their views on telling the diagnosis to the patient in case of a somatic disease and in case of a dementia. An ordinal scoring system was used (not important 1; little important 2; important 3 and very important 4). Results: Forty-six (92%) questionnaires were completed. All the patients and their accompanying relatives thought it was at least important that physicians should tell the patient their diagnosis in case of a somatic disease, and 96% of the patients, 100% of the spouse and 94% of the non-spouse accompanying relatives stated the same in case of a dementia. All the spouses and most of the accompanying relatives showed similar desires for a dementia or somatic diagnosis. Conclusion: In The Netherlands, out-patients with subdued memory impairment, mostly suffering from a dementing illness, wish to be informed of their diagnosis, therefore should not automatically be considered incompetent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)777-779
Number of pages3
JournalInternational journal of geriatric psychiatry
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Dementia
  • Diagnosis
  • Elderly
  • Somatic disease
  • Truth telling

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