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Keywords:

  • Alzheimer's disease;
  • competence;
  • family physicians

Abstract

Objective

The aim of the present study was to assess family physicians' perceptions about the competence of a person with AD.

Methods

Telephone interviews were conducted with a representative sample of 395 family physicians using an experimental vignette methodology, varying in the severity of the disease. Participants were requested to rate the competence of the person described in the vignette in the areas of driving, health-decision making, financial decisions, and the performance of instrumental activities of daily living.

Results

Results of the study showed that family physicians perceived the person described in the vignette to be highly incompetent in items involving safety issues. Only a small variety of factors were associated with these perceptions. The main factors were the severity of the disease as reflected in the vignette, participants' perceptions regarding the dangerousness and responsibility of the person with AD, and the percentage of patients aged 65 + with cognitive deterioration in the physician's practice.

Conclusion

The assessment of competence in persons with AD is a subtle and complex process. Future research is urgently needed to further explore the factors affecting the process, such as stigmatic views. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.