Increased Prevalence in Alzheimer Disease in the Northeast Tennessee Region of the United States

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This study describes the changes in prevalence odds ratios (PORs) for Alzheimer disease (AD) in the northeast Tennessee region (NTR) during a 3-year period, describes the statistical assessment process, and critically assesses the database from which the statistical association was derived. The article also examines several beliefs pertinent to the clinical management of AD in the NTR from the perspective of professionals delivering services. Methods We extracted prevalence data for NTR counties for 2013, 2014, and 2015 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Geographic Variation Public Use File. We used the crude prevalence and the 2010 US Census Data fixed population for each county to compute the POR. The 2013 Economic Research Service Rural-Urban Continuum Codes were used to identify rural and urban counties in the NTR. We collected primary data on the perceived observation of the increasing prevalence in the NTR during the last 3 years and barriers to early diagnosis through an online survey from 44 experts and professionals working in AD-related fields within the NTR. Results The PORs of AD in rural counties in NTR increased by 18.3%, 4.7%, and 19% compared with urban counties for 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively. The POR of AD for the entire NTR region increased by 22.7%, 22.5%, and 21.2% compared with other regions in Tennessee for 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively. Compared with 2012, 68.4% of respondents currently work with more individuals with AD; 71.8% reported that the NTR has a higher number of late-stage diagnoses of AD. A total of 92.3% strongly agreed that early detection of AD is important, and 95% agreed that early diagnosis could prolong the lives of patients with AD; 51.2% were unaware of existing AD screening services. Reported barriers were denial, lack of patient awareness, inefficient screening methods, communication, and lack of community resources. Conclusions Increased prevalence of AD among inhabitants in the NTR and identified barriers to early screening or diagnosis in the management of AD were identified. Access to early screening techniques must be prioritized in deprived areas within the NTR. Healthcare providers and medical professionals in the NTR must be well equipped with the required training and resources to respond adequately to the increasing prevalence of AD.