Ninad V. Baste1, Madhav R. Ghate2

BACKGROUND: Dementia is a neuropsychiatric disorder with a steadily increasing prevalence. A complex etiology, varied clinical manifestations and the lack of diagnostic biological tests makes it a difficult condition to diagnose in the early stages. A delay in the diagnosis eventually denies the patient an early and effective treatment. The awareness of the clinical features and recent advances in its management strategies in the evaluating doctor thus, assumes great significance

OBJECTIVES: To study the prevalence of myths about dementia amongst the doctors and compare the same between psychiatrists and non-psychiatrists.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Based on the myths enumerated by Cummins et al; in their book- Dementia a Clinical Approach; a 10 item questionnaire was prepared to assess the prevalence of myths amongst the doctors. This was then distributed amongst various specialist doctors attending a CME program. The data obtained was divided into two groups; psychiatrists and non-psychiatrists for statistical analysis. The responses between the two groups were compared and analyzed using the chi-square test

RESULTS: A total of 352 doctors out of the 372 doctors surveyed responded and were included in the study. Of these 248 were Psychiatrists and 104 were non-Psychiatrists [20 from Internal Medicine, 10 Neurologists, and 91 Allopathic General Practioners]. 67 % of non-psychiatrists and 66% of psychiatrists had at least 4 myths regarding dementia. The two most commonly held myths were; a) dementia is a state of global cognitive impairment [79%] and b) memory impairment is a must for the diagnosis of dementia [64.5%]. These two most commonly held myths are closely associated with the diagnostic criteria for dementia. As regards these two common myths there was no significant difference amongst the two groups compared

CONCLUSIONS: Our study highlights the urgent need to educate the doctors about the recent developments and the varied clinical presentations of the different types of dementias. There is also a need to clarify the diagnostic criteria and terminologies for dementia