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  • Publication
    Current Practice in the Referral of Individuals with Suspected Dementia for Neuroimaging by General Practitioners in Ireland and Wales
    Objectives: While early diagnosis of dementia is important, the question arises whether general practitioners (GPs) should engage in direct referrals. The current study investigated current referral practices for neuroimaging in dementia, access to imaging modalities and investigated related GP training in Ireland and North Wales. Methods: A questionnaire was distributed to GPs in the programme regions which included approximately two thirds of all GPs in the Republic of Ireland and all general practitioners in North Wales. A total of 2,093 questionnaires were issued. Results: 48.6% of Irish respondents and 24.3%of Welsh respondents directly referred patients with suspected dementia for neuroimaging. Irish GPs reported greater direct access to neuroimaging than their Welsh counterparts. A very small percentage of Irish and Welsh GPs (4.7% and 10% respectively) had received training in neuroimaging and the majority who referred patients for neuroimaging were not aware of any dementia-specific protocols for referrals (93.1% and 95% respectively). Conclusions: The benefits of direct GP access to neuroimaging investigations for dementia have yet to be established. Our findings suggest that current GP speciality training in Ireland and Wales is deficient in dementia-specific and neuroimaging training with the concern being that inadequate training will lead to inadequate referrals. Further training would complement guidelines and provide a greater understanding of the role and appropriateness of neuroimaging techniques in the diagnosis of dementia.
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