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Feasibility of salivary cortisol collection in patients and companions attending dementia diagnostic meetings in memory clinics

Pavlickova, H., Russell, A., Lightman, S. & McCabe, R. ORCID: 0000-0003-2041-7383 (2021). Feasibility of salivary cortisol collection in patients and companions attending dementia diagnostic meetings in memory clinics. BMC Research Notes, 14(1), 30. doi: 10.1186/s13104-021-05446-6


OBJECTIVES: Receiving a diagnosis of dementia is life-changing for the individual and their companion. The aim of the study was to explore the feasibility of collecting salivary cortisol from patients who are informed if they have dementia and their companions. Patients and companions collected nine saliva samples in three batches: 1-2 weeks before, immediately before, and immediately after the diagnostic meeting. Each batch consisted of three samples taken in the evening, after awaking and 30 mins post-waking.

RESULTS: 22.7% (N = 10) of 44 invited patients and nine companions agreed, with 18.2% patients (N = 8) and 15.9% companions (N = 7) providing samples. Participants found that saliva collection was demanding and disrupted routines. On a purely descriptive level, some indications of an increased cortisol stress response in patients diagnosed with dementia were found in this very small sample. Researchers should expect low recruitment rates in this elderly population. Simpler collection procedures, e.g. pre-labelled packages with date/time, possible omission of morning samples and objective rather than self-report assessment of waking and saliva collection times-using actigraphy wrist-watches bleeps to prompt people at the timepoints and electronic track caps-might improve adherence and improve the accuracy of timepoints when swabs were actually collected.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2021. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: Cortisol, Dementia, Diagnostic meeting, Memory clinic
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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