Dementia Largely Undiagnosed In China

Dementia is going largely undiagnosed in China, according to a new study.

Research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry shows that more than 90 percent of cases of dementia are undetected in China, and that dementia is more likely to go undetected among people who live in rural areas or who are of low socioeconomic status.

"Dementia is increasingly a major global health challenge given that the world's population is aging. China has the most dementia sufferers of any country in the world, but at the same time it is a poorly recognized condition," study researcher Dr. Ruoling Chen, of King's College London, said in a statement.

The study is based on data from 7,072 people who live in a rural or urban community in six Chinese provinces. Of those people, 359 had dementia and 328 had depression. However, only 26 people had actually been diagnosed with dementia by a doctor, and 26 had actually been diagnosed with depression by a doctor -- meaning 93 percent of dementia and 93 percent of depression cases had gone undiagnosed.

Researchers noted that health services in rural areas could play a role in low diagnosis rates, as could cultural factors, such as the fact that many elderly people in China live with their families. Researchers found an association between having a strong social support system and having dementia go undiagnosed.