OBJECTIVES: To investigate the general awareness of cognitive impairment in persons with documented dementia, evaluate the subject's recall of a diagnostic disclosure from a physician and their recollection of the discussion, and determine whether this awareness of cognitive impairment or the recall of diagnostic disclosure is associated with poorer self-rated health scores.
DESIGN: Secondary data analysis.
SETTING: Three university-based clinical referral sites for dementia illnesses.
PARTICIPANTS: Convenience sample of 149 patients with a diagnosis of dementia.
MEASUREMENTS: Bivariate and logistic regression models with the outcome variables of patient self-report of memory problems, patient report of being told about memory problems by a physician, and self-reported health scores.
RESULTS: Ninety-six of 149 (64.4%) subjects reported that they had memory problems, and this report was independently associated with younger age (P=.01) and higher Mini-Mental State Examination score (P=.02). Thirty-nine (26.2%) subjects reported being told by a physician about a diagnosis of dementia or memory problems. This recall was associated with younger age (P<.001), male sex (P=.04), and higher education level (P=.02). African Americans reported poorer self-rated health scores (odds ratio (OR)=2.4, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.1–5.1). Persons who reported being told by a physician of a diagnosis of dementia were more likely to report poorer self-rated health (OR=2.5, 95% CI 1.1–5.5).
CONCLUSION: Further research is needed to elucidate the relationship between self-rated health and dementia specifically focusing on the potentially negative effects of diagnostic disclosure on self-rated health, further identification of factors that contribute to self-rated health in persons with dementia, and the prognostic value of self-rated health for persons with dementia.