Internet-based screening for dementia risk

PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e57476. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057476. Epub 2013 Feb 21.

Abstract

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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Anonymous Testing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Brain Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / physiopathology
  • Dementia / diagnosis*
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors

Grant support

Development of the Dementia Risk Assessment was supported by the Geoffrey Beene Gives Back Alzheimer's Initiative. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.