UK Researchers Use Verbal Cues in Dementia Diagnoses


Researchers in the UK have developed a method of verbal analysis that may help determine whether or not a patient’s described memory loss is due to early dementia.



Consultant Neurologist Dr. Daniel Blackburn of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust says of his own clinic, “Six years ago one in five patients seen in the memory clinic did not have dementia, but recently this ratio has been closer to one in two.” Anxiety and mood disorders account for many patient’s complaints of memory loss, and this conversational screening system would allow doctors to more efficiently distinguish these patients from those with dementia.



Doctors can look for several conversation cues by asking themselves these questions:




  • Who is more concerned about the patient’s memory problems, the family or the patient?
  • Can the patient answer complex questions? Two questions in one sentence?
  • How fully do they elaborate when responding?
  • Are they repeating themselves or hesitating before their answers?
  • How often do they respond “I don’t know?”


Researchers theorized this verbal methodology while looking at video recordings of the patient’s initial visit to the memory clinic. By carefully analyzing the opening conversation between the doctor and the patient, they noticed that the speech patterns in patients with dementia had clear differences from those without disorders related to dementia.



“Not only could these findings allow GPs and other primary care health professionals to identify which patients need to be referred to specialist memory clinics,” said Blackburn, “but they could also help minimize the distress of patients who do not suffer with dementia.”




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Resource: e28098Conversation-Analysise28099-to-improve-dementia-diagnosis.aspx




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