The Assessment of Changes in Cognitive Functioning: Age-, Education-, and Gender-Specific Reliable Change Indices for Older Adults Tested on the CERAD-NP Battery

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Abstract

Objectives:

The Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease-Neuropsychological (CERAD-NP) battery represents a commonly used neuropsychological instrument to measure cognitive functioning in the elderly. This study provides normative data for changes in cognitive function that normally occur in cognitively healthy individuals to interpret changes in CERAD-NP test scores over longer time periods.

Design:

Longitudinal cohort study with three assessments at 1.5-year intervals over a period of 3 years.

Setting:

Primary care medical record registry sample.

Participants:

As part of the German Study on Ageing, Cognition, and Dementia in Primary Care Patients, a sample of 1,450 cognitively healthy general practitioner patients, age 75 years and older, was assessed.

Measurements:

Age-, education-, and gender-specific Reliable Change Indices (RCIs) were computed for a 90% confidence interval for selected subtests of the CERAD-NP battery.

Results:

Across different age, education, and gender subgroups, changes from at least six to nine points in Verbal Fluency, four to eight points in Word List Memory, two to four points in Word List Recall, and one to four points in Word List Recognition indicated significant (i.e. reliable) changes in CERAD-NP test scores at the 90% confidence level. Furthermore, the calculation of RCIs for individual patients is demonstrated.

Conclusions:

Smaller changes in CERAD-NP test scores can be interpreted with only high uncertainty because of probable measurement error, practice effects, and normal age-related cognitive decline. This study, for the first time, provides age-, education-, and gender-specific CERAD-NP reference values on the basis of RCI methods for the interpretation of cognitive changes in older-age groups.

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