Patients with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in rural areas lack specialist care

TUESDAY, Aug. 9, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Patients with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ARDDs) living in rural areas have fewer neuropsychological tests and visits to clinical psychologists than patients with urban living online august 5th in Open JAMA Network.

Wendy Y. Xu, Ph.D., of Ohio State University in Columbus, and her colleagues examined rural-urban differences in the use of diagnostic and symptom management services in patients with early MADR (aged 40 to 64 years). The analysis included commercial claims (from 2012 to 2017) for 71,799 patients with early MADR.

The researchers found no statistically significant differences between new patients with early ADRD in rural and urban areas for use of psychological assessments, imaging studies, or visits to neurologists or psychiatrists. However, new patients from rural areas were less likely to undergo neuropsychological testing (odds ratio, 0.83) or see a psychologist (odds ratio, 0.72) than patients from urban areas. New early-onset ADRD patients in rural areas were more likely to have only visits to a primary care provider for diagnosis and symptom management compared to patients in urban areas (odds ratio, 1.40 ).

“Specialized care, including neuropsychological assessments, [is] quite critical for people with dementia to get an accurate diagnosis and establish a symptom management plan,” Xu said in a statement. “These are advanced and complex tests that most primary care physicians are not trained to perform.”

One author disclosed financial ties to Aveanna Healthcare.

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