News | August 20, 2014

New Dementia Research Reveals Overwhelming Demand for ‘Value of Knowing’

August 20, 2014 — Three out of four people would want to know what kind of neurological disorder they had, even if there was no cure, according to new global research from GE Healthcare. An even higher percentage of respondents, 81 percent, would want to identify an incurable neurological disorder if it affected somebody close to them, with more women (84 percent) wanting to know than men (76 percent). The “Value of Knowing” global survey of 10,000 adults across 10 countries explored perspectives on incurable neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s (AD) and Parkinson’s (PD) disease.

Prepared to Pay for Diagnosis

While the overwhelming consensus (94 percent) is that government or health insurance providers should cover diagnosis, approximately half (51 percent) of respondents indicated they would even be prepared to pay for a diagnosis themselves. This sentiment was particularly prevalent in India and China, where 71 percent and 83 percent respectively, said they would be prepared to pay. This was echoed by almost one half of those questioned in Russia and around one-third of respondents in the United Kingdom, United States and Japan.

“What these statistics tell us is just how strongly people feel about tackling neurological disorders like dementia,” said Marc Wortmann, executive director of Alzheimer’s Disease International. “Worldwide, nearly 44 million people have dementia, and this number is expected to nearly double in 20 years as the world’s population ages. Although there is no cure yet, a timely diagnosis is useful for people with dementia to get access to current treatment, services and support, both medical and non-medical.”

When people surveyed were asked why they would want to know, the most common answer (71 percent) was to start treatment that could help manage the symptoms of the disease. Other reasons included the opportunity to change their lifestyle to potentially slow the impact of the illness (66 percent), and the ability to make informed decisions (62 percent). Those who would not want to know cited undue worry and the futility of knowing about their disorder without being able to control it.

Ben Newton, director of PET (positron emission tomography) neurology for GE Healthcare, said, “It’s understandable that dementia is a frightening topic for people. That said, although there are currently no cures for many neurological disorders, there are symptom-modifying therapies and approaches available if detected early enough. It’s interesting to note that the majority of respondents with more experience of a neurological disorder via a loved one for example, said that they would want to know, in spite of there being no cure.”

Recognizing the Symptoms

The research also probed respondents’ recognition of the possible signs and symptoms of dementia. While a majority recognized memory loss (70 percent) and disorientation (61 percent) as signs of dementia, less than half of those surveyed were able to identify other very common symptoms, including language problems, personality, mood and behavior changes, and loss of initiative.

Newton added, “Understanding and knowing all the symptoms of a neurological disorder are critical to helping loved ones who may be showing early signs. Acting early on any concerns may mean patients have access to earlier diagnosis and intervention, which could help to manage and delay the impact of a disorder.”

US Specific Country Findings

The U.S. recorded 80 percent willingness to know. In addition, U.S. women wanted to know their own diagnosis more than men (81 percent vs. 79 percent). Eighty-five percent of U.S. respondents said they would want access to early diagnosis, and 96 percent feel early diagnosis should be covered by health insurance.

The research was conducted by Millward Brown during June 2014 across 10 countries — Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, South Korea, U.K. and U.S. — with 1,000 nationally representative adult respondents in each market.

For more information: www.gehealthcare.com

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