NCHR Comments on USPSTF’s Draft Recommendation Statement on Screening for Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults

National Center for Health Research, October 7, 2019

National Center for Health Research’s Public Comments on
the USPSTF’s Draft Recommendation Statement Concerning
Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults: Screening 

Thank you for the opportunity to express our views on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) draft recommendation regarding screening for cognitive impairment in older adults. The National Center for Health Research (NCHR) is a non-profit think tank that conducts, analyzes, and scrutinizes research, policies, and programs on a range of issues related to health and safety. We do not accept funding from companies that make products that are the subject of our work, so we have no conflicts of interest.

The USPSTF’s draft recommendation concerns screening older adults for cognitive impairment, which includes dementia or mild cognitive impairment that does not interfere with independent daily functioning. We agree with the USPSTF draft that current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of wide-spread screening for cognitive impairment in older adults who do not have recognized signs or symptoms. As there are currently no effective treatment options, screening would be less likely to be beneficial. Moreover, without the option for treatment, such screening might have negative repercussions.   

The lack of treatments for cognitive impairment in older adults is cause for concern, as 47.8 million people are 65 years of age or older and an estimated 2.4 to 5.5 million Americans have dementia.1,2 This becomes a more pressing issue as the population above 65 years old will grow to an estimated 98.2 million by 2060. Well-designed research to determine effective treatment options for cognitive impairments and dementia are thus of utmost importance.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on cognitive impairment screening in older adults.

For questions or more information, please contact Stephanie Fox-Rawlings, PhD at the National Center for Health Research at or at (202) 223-4000.


  1. U.S. Census Bureau. Facts for Features: Older Americans Month: May 2017. Release number CB17-FF.08. April 10, 2017.
  2. Draft Evidence Review: Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults: Screening. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. September 2019.