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Thyroid function tests before prescribing anti-dementia drugs: a retrospective observational study

Authors Sakata N, Okumura Y

Received 14 March 2018

Accepted for publication 25 April 2018

Published 6 July 2018 Volume 2018:13 Pages 1219—1223


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

Nobuo Sakata,1 Yasuyuki Okumura1,2

1Research Department, Institute for Health Economics and Policy, Association for Health Economics Research and Social Insurance and Welfare, Tokyo, Japan; 2Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science, Tokyo, Japan

Purpose: Treatable causes of cognitive dysfunction, such as hypothyroidism, should be excluded by physicians before prescribing anti-dementia drugs. Many clinical guidelines for dementia recommend a thyroid function test (TFT) as one of the standard screening tests for cognitive dysfunction. This study aimed to investigate the national implementation rate of TFTs during the 365 days before the initiation of anti-dementia drugs.
Patients and methods: In this retrospective observational study, using Japan’s nationwide claim database, we enrolled ≥65-year-old patients who were newly prescribed anti-dementia drugs between April 2015 and March 2016. The outcome of this study was the implementation of TFTs in the 365 days prior to the index date. We used demographic data, including age, sex, comorbidities, home-based/institutional care, and provider type, as covariates.
Results: We identified 262,279 patients newly prescribed anti-dementia drugs; of these, only 32.6% underwent TFTs before the initiation of anti-dementia drug treatment. Patients treated in dementia care centers were twice as likely to undergo TFTs as those treated in clinics (57% vs 26%; adjusted risk ratio: 2.17; 95% confidence interval: 2.01–2.33).
Conclusion: In Japan, patients with dementia often do not undergo TFTs before being prescribed anti-dementia drugs, particularly in a primary care setting. This suggests that the practice of screening treatable cognitive dysfunction should be audited.

Keywords: cognitive dysfunction, drug treatment, guideline adherence, hypothyroidism

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