Internet-Based Screening for Dementia Risk

Department of Neurology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 02/2013; 8(2):e57476. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057476
Source: PubMed


The Dementia Risk Assessment (DRA) is an online tool consisting of questions about known risk factors for dementia, a novel verbal memory test, and an informant report of cognitive decline. Its primary goal is to educate the public about dementia risk factors and encourage clinical evaluation where appropriate. In Study 1, more than 3,000 anonymous persons over age 50 completed the DRA about themselves; 1,000 people also completed proxy reports about another person. Advanced age, lower education, male sex, complaints of severe memory impairment, and histories of cerebrovascular disease, Parkinson's disease, and brain tumor all contributed significantly to poor memory performance. A high correlation was obtained between proxy-reported decline and actual memory test performance. In Study 2, 52 persons seeking first-time evaluation at dementia clinics completed the DRA prior to their visits. Their responses (and those of their proxy informants) were compared to the results of independent evaluation by geriatric neuropsychiatrists. The 30 patients found to meet criteria for probable Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, or frontotemporal dementia differed on the DRA from the 22 patients without dementia (most other neuropsychiatric conditions). Scoring below criterion on the DRA's memory test had moderately high predictive validity for clinically diagnosed dementia. Although additional studies of larger clinical samples are needed, the DRA holds promise for wide-scale screening for dementia risk.

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    • "Thus, the DRA is probably most appropriate for persons very early in their cognitive decline. Third, the clinical sample previously described [10] was small, and the results of that study require repli- cation. We now report on two studies that provide additional support for the validity of the DRA. "

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