The UK NSC recommendation on Screening for Dementia

Recommendation Systematic population screening programme not recommended
Last review completed January 2015
Next review due in 2017/18
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Find general information about population health screening.

Why is screening not recommended by UK NSC?

About 7 out of every 100 people over the age of 65 have dementia. If this age group was screened using current tests about 18 people would receive a positive test result, but:

• only 6 of these people would actually have dementia

• 12 people would receive a positive result when they don't have dementia

• 1 person who does have dementia would be missed and be falsely reassured

Between 7 and 17 out of every 100 people over the age of 65 demonstrate a mild cognitive impairment using current tests. But this does not always mean the person has or will develop dementia. Only about 5-10% of people with this will develop dementia each year. Because of this many people would receive positive test results when they would not actually develop dementia.

More about Dementia

Dementia is a common condition that usually affects people over the age of 65. It is a syndrome associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities such as memory loss, thinking speed and judgement. Most types of dementia can’t be cured, but with early detection it can be slowed down to maintain mental function.

» Read more about dementia on NHS Choices

Some frequently asked questions have been deliveloped following the 2015 UK NSC recommendations


Alzheimer's Research UK
Alzheimer's Society
Association of British Neurologists
British Geriatrics Society
The British Psychological Society
Faculty of Public Health
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Nursing
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Royal College of Psychiatrists

The stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More information for stakeholders can be found in appendix C of the UK NSC evidence review process.

Recommendation Review History

In 2009 we reviewed the appraisal for screening for Alzheimer’s Disease, concluding that a systematic population screening programme is not recommended. The 2014 consultation reviews screening for all classes of dementia, which includes Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia.

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