BACKGROUND: Case-finding for dementia is practised by general practitioners (GPs) in Australia but without an awareness of community preferences. We explored the values and preferences of informed community members around case-finding for dementia in Australian general practice.
DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: A before and after, mixed-methods study in Gold Coast, Australia, with ten community members aged 50-70.
INTERVENTION: A 2-day citizen/community jury. Participants were informed by experts about dementia, the potential harms and benefits of case-finding, and ethical considerations.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOMES: We asked participants, "Should the health system encourage GPs to practice 'case-finding' of dementia in people older than 50?" Case-finding was defined as a GP initiating testing for dementia when the patient is unaware of symptoms. We also assessed changes in participant comprehension/knowledge, attitudes towards dementia and participants' own intentions to undergo case-finding for dementia if it were suggested.
RESULTS: Participants voted unanimously against case-finding for dementia, citing a lack of effective treatments, potential for harm to patients and potential financial incentives. However, they recognized that case-finding was currently practised by Australian GPs and recommended specific changes to the guidelines. Participants increased their comprehension/knowledge of dementia, their attitude towards case-finding became less positive, and their intentions to be tested themselves decreased.
CONCLUSION: Once informed, community jury participants did not agree case-finding for dementia should be conducted by GPs. Yet their personal intentions to accept case-finding varied. If case-finding for dementia is recommended in the guidelines, then shared decision making is essential.