Agreement on diagnosis among patients, companions, and professionals after a dementia evaluation

Alexandra K. Zaleta, Brian D. Carpenter, Emily K. Porensky, Chengjie Xiong, John C. Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


A diagnosis of dementia is challenging to deliver and to hear; yet, agreement on diagnosis is essential for effective treatment for dementia. We examined consensus on the results of an evaluation of dementia in 90 patients assessed at an Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. Diagnostic impressions were obtained from 5 sources: (1) the physician's chart; (2) the patient who was evaluated; (3) a companion present at the evaluation; (4) a diagnostic summary written by a nurse present during the evaluation; and (5) raters who watched a video of the diagnostic disclosure conversation. Overall, diagnostic consensus was only moderate. Patients and companions exhibited just fair agreement with one another. Agreement was better between physicians and companions compared with that between physicians and patients, although it was imperfect between physicians and video raters and the written summary. Agreement among sources varied by dementia severity, with the lowest agreement occurring in instances of very mild dementia. This study documents discrepancies that can arise in diagnostic communication, which could influence adjustment to a diagnosis of dementia and decisions regarding future planning and care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-237
Number of pages6
JournalAlzheimer disease and associated disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Alzheimer disease
  • dementia
  • diagnostic disclosure
  • doctor-patient communication
  • patient education


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