Background: Physicians often miss diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or early dementia and screening measures can be insensitive to very mild impairments. Other cognitive assessments may take too much time or be frustrating to seniors. This study examined the ability of an audio-recorded scale, developed in Australia, to detect MCI or mild Alzheimer's disease (AD) and compared cognitive domain-specific performance on the audio-recorded scale to in-person battery and common cognitive screens.
Method: Seventy-six patients from the Mount Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center were recruited. Patients were aged 75 years or older, with clinical diagnosis of AD or MCI (n = 51) or normal control (n = 25). Participants underwent in-person neuropsychological testing followed by testing with the audio-recorded cognitive screen (ARCS).
Results: ARCS provided better discrimination between normal and impaired elderly individuals than either the Mini-Mental State Examination or the clock drawing test. The in-person battery and ARCS analogous variables were significantly correlated, most in the 0.4 to 0.7 range, including verbal memory, executive function/attention, naming, and verbal fluency. The area under the curve generated from the receiver operating characteristic curves indicated high and equivalent discrimination for ARCS and the in-person battery (0.972 vs. 0.988; p = 0.23).
Conclusion: The ARCS demonstrated better discrimination between normal controls and those with mild deficits than typical screening measures. Performance on cognitive domains within the ARCS was well correlated with the in-person battery. Completion of the ARCS was accomplished despite mild difficulty hearing the instructions even in very elderly participants, indicating that it may be a useful measure in primary care settings.