Practicality of a computerized system for cognitive assessment in the elderly

Alzheimers Dement. 2008 Jan;4(1):14-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2007.09.008.


Background: Early detection and diagnosis are critical to dementia care. However, many early cases remain undiagnosed as a result of the impracticality of neuropsychological testing, particularly in primary care. Mindstreams is an office-based computerized system for measuring cognitive function in multiple domains, with demonstrated validity, test-retest reliability, and sensitivity to treatment effects. This study evaluated its feasibility for assessment of the elderly.

Methods: Usability data were collected after each of 2,888 consecutive initial-visit testing sessions at the first 11 clinical centers to use Mindstreams. The chi(2) goodness-of-fit test was employed to determine whether patients and supervisors more often rated tests easy versus hard to use. Separate analyses were run for non-computer users, patients older than 75 years, and poor performers (< or =1 standard deviation on overall battery performance).

Results: For all patients (n = 2,888; age, 64.7 +/- 18.2 years), 83% rated the tests easy to use (P < .001). Seventy-three percent of non-computer users, 70% of patients older than 75, and 69% of poor performers rated them easy to use (Ps < .001). Supervisor ratings and ease of understandability ratings were similar. For all patients, 76% of supervisor ratings indicated no patient frustration (P < .001). Seventy-eight percent of ratings for non-computer users, 76% for patients older than 75, and 74% for poor performers indicated no frustration (Ps < .001).

Conclusions: Mindstreams was easily employed, including in patients with considerable cognitive impairment, supporting its practicality for in-office cognitive assessment of the elderly. The availability of such valid and practical assessment suggests the feasibility of integrating the technology within a clinical algorithm for improved detection of cognitive decline.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Computers
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Reaction Time
  • Software