Attention: neuropsychological predictor of competency in Alzheimer's disease.

Department of Psychiatry, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland 21287-5371, USA.
Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology (Impact Factor: 1.63). 12/1999; 12(4):200-5. DOI: 10.1177/089198879901200406
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study was undertaken to examine the relationship between two different competencies, financial and medical decision making, and explore whether neuropsychological testing can identify a common underlying cognitive operation impaired in patients with AD. The objective was to examine the neuropsychological predictors of financial and medical decision-making competencies in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Twenty individuals with mild to moderate AD and 20 control subjects matched for age and education were evaluated at a university medical center. All participants were administered a financial competency questionnaire, a competency test for medical decision making, and a set of standardized neuropsychological tests selected to reflect cognitive processes theoretically related to competency. In addition, an informant provided information regarding banking history for each participant. AD patients performed more poorly on all measures, including both measures of competency, which were highly related (R = .718, P < .001). Two tests, Trails A and Word List Recall, were significantly correlated with both competency measures, with Trails A predicting over 85% of the variance in competency scores. Trails A discriminated competent from not competent participants with an accuracy ranging from 77% to 82%. Measures of financial and medical decision-making competency were significantly correlated among patients with AD. One brief neuropsychological test of attention, Trails A, proved to be highly predictive of performance on both competency measures and useful in the discrimination of competent performance on these measures and by informant report.