Two online instruments could assess dementia risk and cognitive function as reliably as in-person evaluations.
VANCOUVER—Internet-based assessments have the potential to aid the diagnosis of cognitive disorders and the conduct of preclinical dementia trials, according to two studies presented at the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.
Dementia Risk Assessment
Jason Brandt, PhD, Director of the Division of Medical Psychology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted two studies to evaluate the Dementia Risk Assessment (DRA), an Internet-based instrument. The DRA collects responders’ risk factors, administers the Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly (IQCODE), and tests responders’ associative memory.
In the first study, the researchers solicited 3,168 participants ages 50 and older to respond to the DRA between April 2009 and December 2011. The investigators defined possible impairment as a score lower than 0.25 on the recognition memory test. In the second study, the researchers recruited 52 patients who wanted to be evaluated for possible cognitive disorder from two private memory clinics. Patients completed the DRA and subsequently underwent a comprehensive dementia diagnostic evaluation that did not consider DRA results.
The mean age of participants in the first study was 64, and approximately 38% were male. Dr. Brandt’s team performed a forward stepwise regression on memory test score and found that the resulting seven-variable linear model was statistically significant. The model, which included age, severe memory problems, sex, education, memory delay interval, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease, accounted for 14.5% of the total variance in recognition memory score.