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To propose a set of internationally harmonized procedures and methods for assessing neurocognitive functions, smell, taste, mental, and psychosocial health, and other factors in adults formally diagnosed with COVID-19 (confirmed as SARS-CoV-2 + WHO definition).
We formed an international and cross-disciplinary NeuroCOVID Neuropsychology Taskforce in April 2020. Seven criteria were used to guide the selection of the recommendations’ methods and procedures: (i) Relevance to all COVID-19 illness stages and longitudinal study design; (ii) Standard, cross-culturally valid or widely available instruments; (iii) Coverage of both direct and indirect causes of COVID-19-associated neurological and psychiatric symptoms; (iv) Control of factors specifically pertinent to COVID-19 that may affect neuropsychological performance; (v) Flexibility of administration (telehealth, computerized, remote/online, face to face); (vi) Harmonization for facilitating international research; (vii) Ease of translation to clinical practice.
The three proposed levels of harmonization include a screening strategy with telehealth option, a medium-size computerized assessment with an online/remote option, and a comprehensive evaluation with flexible administration. The context in which each harmonization level might be used is described. Issues of assessment timelines, guidance for home/remote assessment to support data fidelity and telehealth considerations, cross-cultural adequacy, norms, and impairment definitions are also described.
The proposed recommendations provide rationale and methodological guidance for neuropsychological research studies and clinical assessment in adults with COVID-19. We expect that the use of the recommendations will facilitate data harmonization and global research. Research implementing the recommendations will be crucial to determine their acceptability, usability, and validity.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) studies are increasingly targeting earlier (pre)clinical populations, in which the expected degree of observable cognitive decline over a certain time interval is reduced as compared to the dementia stage. Consequently, endpoints to capture early cognitive changes require refinement. We aimed to determine the sensitivity to decline of widely applied neuropsychological tests at different clinical stages of AD as outlined in the National Institute on Aging – Alzheimer’s Association (NIA-AA) research framework.
Amyloid-positive individuals (as determined by positron emission tomography or cerebrospinal fluid) with longitudinal neuropsychological assessments available were included from four well-defined study cohorts and subsequently classified among the NIA-AA stages. For each stage, we investigated the sensitivity to decline of 17 individual neuropsychological tests using linear mixed models.
1103 participants (age = 70.54 ± 8.7, 47% female) were included: n = 120 Stage 1, n = 206 Stage 2, n = 467 Stage 3 and n = 309 Stage 4. Neuropsychological tests were differentially sensitive to decline across stages. For example, Category Fluency captured significant 1-year decline as early as Stage 1 (β = −.58, p < .001). Word List Delayed Recall (β = −.22, p < .05) and Trail Making Test (β = 6.2, p < .05) became sensitive to 1-year decline in Stage 2, whereas the Mini-Mental State Examination did not capture 1-year decline until Stage 3 (β = −1.13, p < .001) and 4 (β = −2.23, p < .001).
We demonstrated that commonly used neuropsychological tests differ in their ability to capture decline depending on clinical stage within the AD continuum (preclinical to dementia). This implies that stage-specific cognitive endpoints are needed to accurately assess disease progression and increase the chance of successful treatment evaluation in AD.
A decline in everyday cognitive functioning is important for diagnosing dementia. Informant questionnaires, such as the informant questionnaire on cognitive decline in the elderly (IQCODE), are used to measure this. Previously, conflicting results on the IQCODEs ability to discriminate between Alzheimer's disease (AD), mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and cognitively healthy elderly were found. We aim to investigate whether specific groups of items are more useful than others in discriminating between these patient groups. Informants of 180 AD, 59 MCI, and 89 patients with subjective memory complaints (SMC) completed the IQCODE. To investigate the grouping of questionnaire items, we used a two-dimensional graded response model (GRM).The association between IQCODE, age, gender, education, and diagnosis was modeled using structural equation modeling. The GRM with two groups of items fitted better than the unidimensional model. However, the high correlation between the dimensions (r=.90) suggested unidimensionality. The structural model showed that the IQCODE was able to differentiate between all patient groups. The IQCODE can be considered as unidimensional and as a useful addition to diagnostic screening in a memory clinic setting, as it was able to distinguish between AD, MCI, and SMC and was not influenced by gender or education. (JINS, 2011, 17, 674–681)
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