Background: In an effort to better understand why cognitively normal patients are referred to a memory clinic, we sought to identify features of “worried well” patients to better identify those more likely to be cognitively normal. Methods: Three hundred and seventy-five consecutive patients referred by primary care practitioners to a Rural and Remote Memory Clinic, were categorized into two groups based on their neurologic diagnosis, “worried well” (cognitively normal, N=81) or “other” (patients with any neurologic diagnosis, N=294). The two groups were compared using a t-test and a Chi-squared test. The same comparison was done between the same set of “worried well” patients (N=81) and the subgroup of patients with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (N=146) from the “other” group. Ethics approval was obtained from the University of Saskatchewan Biomedical Research Ethics Board. Results: Significant differences included younger age, more formal education, more frequent previous psychiatric diagnosis and more self-reported alcohol consumption in the “worried well” group. The “worried well” and “Alzheimer’s Disease” comparison had the same significant differences as the “worried well” and “other” comparison. Conclusions: We observed a pattern of differences between the “worried well” patients and those with cognitive disease. Taking multiple factors into account when evaluating a patient may help with clinical decision making.
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