Push to screen for dementia potentially harmful

Governments in the US and UK have recently announced financial incentives for increased screening for pre-dementia.

In the latest of a series of articles in the BMJ’s Too Much Medicine campaign, timed to coincide with this week’s Preventing Overdiagnosis conference in the US, Australian specialists warn that these policies are not backed by evidence and ignore the risks, harms and costs to individuals, families and societies.

Expanding the diagnosis of dementia will result in up to 65% of people older than 80 being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and up to 23% of older people without dementia being labelled with the condition, warned lead author Professor David Le Couteur from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre.

“Evidence suggests that only 5–10% of people with mild cognitive symptoms will develop dementia each year,” he said.

In England, the government has announced it