We surveyed old age psychiatrists in the north-east of England to determine what they considered relevant indicators of driving ability. The survey asked about their satisfaction with the current Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) procedure of assessing competence to drive in patients with dementia and how they thought this could be improved.
Fifty-seven out of 76 psychiatrists (75%) responded; 26 (45%) respondents thought the forms issued by the DVLA were unsatisfactory but 32 (57%) were satisfied with the eventual decisions made about individual patients. Factors thought to be relevant indicators of driving ability were occupational therapy (n=46, 81%), neuropsychological assessments (n=43, 75%) and carer's report of driving (n=48, 84%). Factors thought not to be relevant were patient's report of driving ability (n=13, 23%) and the Mini Mental State Examination (n=21, 38%).
The current system for determining driving ability in people with cognitive impairment and dementia was felt to be unsatisfactory. A multidisciplinary approach and use of on-road driving assessments may improve decision-making.
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