Fam Pract 2018 09;35(5):595-598
Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
Background: Charles Bonnet syndrome is characterized by formed visual hallucinations in individuals with vision loss. It is reported that one in five older adults with vision loss suffer from Charles Bonnet syndrome and the suspected lack of awareness amongst family physicians may lead to misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment.
Objective: To assess Canadian family physicians' awareness of Charles Bonnet syndrome.
Methods: We conducted a national perception and practices survey of family physicians across Canada to assess (i) the level of awareness of Charles Bonnet syndrome amongst family physicians; (ii) the frequency of family physicians' encounters with patients with visual hallucinations and (iii) management strategies and referral patterns for patients with Charles Bonnet syndrome presenting to family physicians.
Results: Four hundred and ninety-nine family physicians across Canada answered at least one question on the survey. 54.7% indicated they were not at all aware and 19.7% indicated they were slightly aware of Charles Bonnet syndrome. 72.8% of physicians had patients present with visual hallucinations once a year or less often. The frequency of patients seen in practice with visual hallucinations is significantly associated with awareness by physicians of Charles Bonnet syndrome (β = 0.501, t(388) = 5.59, P < 0.001). Of those who encountered patients with visual hallucinations, the majority of respondents (77.4%) provided counselling or education to the patient.
Conclusion: There is a great lack of knowledge about Charles Bonnet syndrome among family physicians. Awareness of Charles Bonnet syndrome is critical to appropriate diagnosis, assessment and treatment of this condition and to reassure patients that they are not suffering from a mental disorder.