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Dementia care and the role of guideline adherence in primary care: cross-sectional findings from the DemTab study

Lech, Sonia; O’Sullivan, Julie L.; Drewelies, Johanna; Herrmann, Wolfram; Spang, Robert P.; Voigt-Antons, Jan-Niklas; Nordheim, Johanna; Gellert, Paul

Background: General practitioners (GPs) play a key role in the care of people with dementia (PwD). However, the role of the German Dementia Guideline in primary care remains unclear. The main objective of the present study was to examine the role of guideline-based dementia care in general practices. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis of data obtained from the DemTab study was conducted. Descriptive analyses of sociodemographic and clinical characteristics for GPs (N = 28) and PwD (N = 91) were conducted. Adherence to the German Dementia Guideline of GPs was measured at the level of PwD. Linear Mixed Models were used to analyze the associations between adherence to the German Dementia Guideline and GP factors at individual (age, years of experience as a GP, frequency of utilization of guideline, perceived usefulness of guideline) and structural (type of practice, total number of patients seen by a participating GP, and total number of PwD seen by a participating GP) levels as well as between adherence to the German Dementia Guideline and PwD’s quality of life. Results: Self-reported overall adherence of GPs was on average 71% (SD = 19.4, range: 25–100). Adherence to specific recommendations varied widely (from 19.2 to 95.3%) and the majority of GPs (79.1%) reported the guideline as only partially or somewhat helpful. Further, we found lower adherence to be significantly associated with higher numbers of patients (γ10 = − 5.58, CI = − 10.97, − 0.19, p = .04). No association between adherence to the guideline and PwD’s quality of life was found (γ10 = −.86, CI = − 4.18, 2.47, p = .61). Conclusion: The present study examined the role of adherence to the German Dementia Guideline recommendations in primary care. Overall, GPs reported high levels of adherence. However, major differences across guideline recommendations were found. Findings highlight the importance of guidelines for the provision of care. Dementia guidelines for GPs need to be better tailored and addressed. Further, structural changes such as more time for PwD may contribute to a sustainable change of dementia care in primary care. Trial registration: The DemTab trial was prospectively registered with the ISRCTN registry (Trial registration number: ISRCTN15854413). Registered 01 April 2019.
Published in: BMC Geriatrics, 10.1186/s12877-021-02650-8, Springer Nature