The journey from uncertainty to certainty and back again: Experiences of neuropsychological assessment for possible dementia, using interpretative phenomenological analysis

Robinson, Chantel (2016) The journey from uncertainty to certainty and back again: Experiences of neuropsychological assessment for possible dementia, using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

Background: Dementia has become a global public health and social care
priority (World Health Organisation, 2012b). In England, the National Dementia
Strategy promoted a drive towards earlier diagnosis of dementia (Department of
Health, 2009). An important part of the transition from one’s identity without
dementia, to a person with dementia is being assessed for cognitive impairment.
Currently, little is known about peoples’ experiences of being assessed for
possible dementia, or how they make sense of, adapt and cope with this process.
Previous research has predominantly focused on exploring experiences of people
who are living with dementia, from the point of diagnosis. The current study
aims to add to the understanding of the “dementia journey”, by exploring
participants’ experiences of undergoing a neuropsychological assessment for
possible dementia.
Method: This study employed a qualitative design. Semi-structured interviews
were used to explore participants’ experiences of neuropsychological assessment
for possible dementia. Eight participants were interviewed, after they had
completed their neuropsychological assessment. Assessment outcomes were
mixed, and not all received a diagnosis of dementia. Interview transcripts were
analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.
Results: Four interrelated superordinate themes emerged from the interview
data, which represented participants shared experience of neuropsychological
assessment. These were: “Things aren’t right: what’s wrong with me?”, “Testing
by name, testing by nature”, “Professional roles: different sides of the same
coin”, and “Finding out....”. Neuropsychological assessment experience was
depicted as a journey characterised by uncertainty and participants’ search to
make sense of and ameliorate that uncertainty.
Conclusions: Undergoing a neuropsychological assessment for possible
dementia can be a distressing and uncertain experience, despite professionals’
efforts to explain the assessment process. Current clinical practices should be
reviewed and adapted to best meet the needs of people being assessed for
possible dementia. Future research that explores experiences of other types of
dementia assessment would be interesting.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Depositing User: Vailele Chittock
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2016 09:58
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2016 09:58
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/59681
DOI:

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