Dementia services mini-screen: A simple method to identify patients and caregivers in need of enhanced dementia care services

Soo Borson, James M. Scanlan, Tatiana Sadak, Mary Lessig, Peter Vitaliano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: Improving dementia care in health systems requires estimates of need in the population served. We explored whether dementia-specific service needs and gaps for patients and caregivers could be predicted by simple information readily captured in routine care settings. Method: Primary family caregivers (n = 215) rated their own current stress, challenging patient behaviors, and prior-year needs and gaps in 16 medical and psychosocial services. These were evaluated with other patient and caregiver characteristics in multivariate regressions to identify unique predictors of service needs and gaps. Results: Caregiver stress and patient behavior problems together accounted for an average of 24% of the whole-sample variance in total needs and gaps. All other variables combined (comorbid chronic disease, dementia severity, age, caregiver relationship, and residence) accounted for a mean of 3%, with none yielding more than 4% in any equation. We combined stress and behavior problem indicators into a simple screen. In early/mild dementia dyads (n = 111) typical in primary care settings, the screen identified gaps in total (84%) and psychosocial (77%) care services for high stress/high behavior problem dyads vs. 25% and 23%, respectively, of low stress/low behavior problem dyads. Medical care gaps were dramatically higher in high stress/high behavior problem dyads (66%) than all others (12%). Conclusion: The Dementia Services Mini-sScreen is a simple tool that could help clinicians and health systems rapidly identify dyads needing enhanced dementia care, track key patient and caregiver outcomes of interventions, and estimate population needs for new service development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)746-755
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acquisition of data and initial drafting of the manuscript was supported by the National Institute on Aging ( P50 AG 5136 , Alzheimer's Disease Research Center [to SB, ML, and JMS]), the National Institute of Mental Health ( R01 MH 57663 to PV), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (to SB). TS receives support from the JAHF Atlantic Philanthropies Claire Fagin Fellowship and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


  • Chronic care
  • Dementia
  • Health services
  • Screening


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