Introduction: There is a great need for quick tests that identify treatment response in Alzheimer's disease (AD) to determine who benefits from the treatment. In this study, A Quick Test of cognitive speed (AQT) was compared with the mini-mental state examination (MMSE) in the evaluation of treatment outcome in AD.
Methods: 75 patients with mild to moderate AD at a memory clinic were assessed with AQT and the MMSE at a pretreatment visit, at baseline and after 8 weeks of treatment with cholinesterase inhibitors (ChEI) initiated at baseline. Changes in the mean test scores before and after treatment were compared, as well as the number of treatment responders detected by each test, according to a reliable change index (RCI).
Results: After 8 weeks of treatment, the AQT improvement, expressed as a percentage, was significantly greater than that of the MMSE (P = 0.026). According to the RCI, the cut-offs to define a responder were ≥16 seconds improvement on AQT and ≥3 points on the MMSE after 8 weeks. With these cut-offs, both tests falsely classified ≤5% as responders during the pretreatment period. After 8 weeks of treatment, AQT detected significantly more responders than the MMSE (34% compared with 17%; P = 0.024). After 6 months of treatment, the 8-week AQT responders still showed a significantly better treatment response than the AQT nonresponders (22.3 seconds in mean difference; P < 0.001).
Conclusions: AQT detects twice as many treatment responders as the MMSE. It seems that AQT can, already after 8 weeks, identify the AD patients who will continue to benefit from ChEI treatment.