Your browser doesn't support JavaScript. Please upgrade to a modern browser or enable JavaScript in your existing browser.
Skip Navigation U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Agency for Healthcare Research Quality

Screening for Dementia

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Release Date: June 2003

Summary of Recommendations / Supporting Documents

Summary of Recommendations

  • The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concludes that the evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against routine screening for dementia in older adults.

    Rating: "I" statement.

    Rationale: The USPSTF found good evidence that some screening tests have good sensitivity but only fair specificity in detecting cognitive impairment and dementia. There is fair to good evidence that several drug therapies have a beneficial effect on cognitive function (equivalent to delaying the natural progression of Alzheimer's disease from 2 to 7 months), but the evidence of their beneficial effects on instrumental activities of daily living is mixed, with the benefit being small, at best. There is insufficient evidence to determine whether the benefits observed in drug trials are generalizable to patients whose disease would be detected by screening in primary care settings. The accuracy of diagnosis, the feasibility of screening and treatment in routine clinical practice, and the potential harms of screening (e.g., labeling effects) are also unknown. The Task Force therefore could not determine whether the benefits of screening for dementia outweigh the harms.

Top of Page

Supporting Documents

Screening for Dementia, June 2003

Recommendations and Rationale (PDF File, 207 KB; PDF Help)
Summary of the Evidence (PDF File, 289 KB; PDF Help)
Systematic Evidence Review (PDF File, 2.8 MB; PDF Help)

Top of Page

Current as of June 2003

Internet Citation:

Screening for Dementia, Topic Page. June 2003. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care