Background: Cognitive impairment in MS impacts negatively on many patients at all disease stages and in all subtypes. Full clinical cognitive assessment is expensive, requiring expert staff and special equipment. Test versions and normative data are not available for all languages and cultures.
Objective: To recommend a brief cognitive assessment for multiple sclerosis (MS) that is optimized for small centers, with one or few staff members, who may not have neuropsychological training and constructed to maximize international use.
Methods: An expert committee of twelve members representing the main cultural groups that have so far contributed considerable data about MS cognitive dysfunction was convened. Following exhaustive literature review, peer-reviewed articles were selected to cover a broad spectrum of cultures and scales that targeted cognitive domains vulnerable to MS. Each was rated by two committee members and candidates scales were rated on psychometric qualities (reliability, validity, and sensitivity), international application, ease of administration, feasibility in the specified context, and acceptability to patients.
Results: The committee recommended the Symbol Digit Modalities Test, if only 5 minutes was available, with the addition of the California Verbal Learning Test - Second Edition and the Brief Visuospatial Memory Test - Revised learning trials if a further 10 minutes could be allocated for testing.
Conclusions: A brief cognitive assessment for MS has been recommended. A validation protocol has been prepared for language groups and validation studies have commenced.