Neuropsychological Assessment of the Aging Physician: A Review & Commentary

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Late-career physicians (LCPs) are at risk for cognitive changes that may affect their ability to practice medicine. This review aggregates and discusses research that has examined cognitive functioning among physicians, typically when clinically referred for various medical and psychological reasons that may interfere with their ability to practice medicine. Special consideration is devoted to the role of approaches for examining cognitive functioning (e.g., cognitive screening, cognitive testing, & neuropsychological assessment), normative challenges, and cultural factors that should be considered when evaluating a physician. Based on published studies, there is evidence supportive of the use of cognitive testing and neuropsychological assessment among physicians in a fitness for duty setting. However, prospective studies designed to identify physicians at-risk (i.e., to prevent medical error) are lacking. Additional research is warranted to establish physician-based normative reference groups and aid in test interpretation and prognostication. Moreover, given limitations associated with cognitive testing in isolation, there is a potential role for comprehensive neuropsychological assessment to identify cognitive changes in physicians and provide a supportive pathway to preserve physicians’ ability to practice medicine.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology