A report published on the Science Daily website yesterday explains that UK older adults were far less likely to want to access dementia screening than their US counterparts.
The premise of the study was to find out what difference access to universal health care made to access to services and screening in particular for Alzheimer’s. The findings were, well, it didn’t make a great deal of difference, in fact, UK patients sought the screenings at a far lower level.
Some interesting points I picked up from the study. The reasons given for Britons being less likely to want the screening were based on the attitudes and stigma that society places on people who have Alzheimer’s.
Interestingly, although none of the sample groups in the UK or US had diagnoses of Alzheimer’s
significantly more of the U.K. participants (48 percent) had close friends or relatives who have or had Alzheimer’s disease compared to U.S. participants (27 percent)
So it made me wonder if the concerns about being screened were not about the cost of treatment obviously in the UK as there is the free universal healthcare, but more from having seen family and/or friends suffering at closer range.
So the conclusion that
Even when taking into account education and race differences, Britons indicated greater concern with the stigma of diagnosis, with potential loss of independence, and with emotional suffering than their American counterparts
may be, at least in part, due to a closer experience of Alzheimer’s in the UK sample.
I hope these kinds of studies are not used to attack universal health care. I think there are a lot of other attitudes and perceptions at play rather than just ‘fear of the cost of Alzheimer’s’.
The researchers intend to extend on this pilot study with further studies.
One to watch.