Development and Usability of ADappt: Web-Based Tool to Support Clinicians, Patients, and Caregivers in the Diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer Disease

JMIR Form Res. 2019 Jul 8;3(3):e13417. doi: 10.2196/13417.


Background: As a result of advances in diagnostic testing in the field of Alzheimer disease (AD), patients are diagnosed in earlier stages of the disease, for example, in the stage of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This poses novel challenges for a clinician during the diagnostic workup with regard to diagnostic testing itself, namely, which tests are to be performed, but also on how to engage patients in this decision and how to communicate test results. As a result, tools to support decision making and improve risk communication could be valuable for clinicians and patients.

Objective: The aim of this study was to present the design, development, and testing of a Web-based tool for clinicians in a memory clinic setting and to ascertain whether this tool can (1) facilitate the interpretation of biomarker results in individual patients with MCI regarding their risk of progression to dementia, (2) support clinicians in communicating biomarker test results and risks to MCI patients and their caregivers, and (3) support clinicians in a process of shared decision making regarding the diagnostic workup of AD.

Methods: A multiphase mixed-methods approach was used. Phase 1 consisted of a qualitative needs assessment among professionals, patients, and caregivers; phase 2, consisted of an iterative process of development and the design of the tool (ADappt); and phase 3 consisted of a quantitative and qualitative assessment of usability and acceptability of ADappt. Across these phases, co-creation was realized via a user-centered qualitative approach with clinicians, patients, and caregivers.

Results: In phase 1, clinicians indicated the need for risk calculation tools and visual aids to communicate test results to patients. Patients and caregivers expressed their needs for more specific information on their risk for developing AD and related consequences. In phase 2, we developed the content and graphical design of ADappt encompassing 3 modules: a risk calculation tool, a risk communication tool including a summary sheet for patients and caregivers, and a conversation starter to support shared decision making regarding the diagnostic workup. In phase 3, ADappt was considered to be clear and user-friendly.

Conclusions: Clinicians in a memory clinic setting can use ADappt, a Web-based tool, developed using multiphase design and co-creation, for support that includes an individually tailored interpretation of biomarker test results, communication of test results and risks to patients and their caregivers, and shared decision making on diagnostic testing.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; biomarkers; decision aids; mild cognitive impairment; precision medicine; risk; shared decision making.