Aging Parents: AD8 – More Effective Alzheimer’s Screening

Click to see the AD8 form.

E-Max Health reports on an article, Relationship of Dementia Screening Tests with Biomarkers of Alzheimer’s Disease (abstract), published online by the journal Brain. The October 10, 2010 article is free, but to get the text file it’s necessary to sign up for a login name and password at the journal website.

In a longitudinal study of 257 participants researchers evaluated how a screening method, Acertain Dementia 8 (AD8)a set of questions with yes or no answers — compares and contrasts with other Alzheimer’s diagnostic procedures. They hypothesized that repeated administrations of the AD8 can help physicians and family members effectively screen for early symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Read through the eight questions at the E-Max Health article or click on the PDF image below.

Since the AD8 questions can be repeated more than once — by family and friends (called informants in the study) —  data are collected over a longer period of time. The accumulated data can facilitate an earlier diagnosis and treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. One limitation to the AD8 is that it relies on informants who are observant, and a casual associate or family member might not take in enough to answer the questions.

In their introduction the authors wrote. “Screening tests for Alzheimer’s disease lack sensitivity and specificity. We developed the AD8, a brief dementia screening interview, validated against clinical and cognitive evaluations, as an improvement over current screening methods.”

The study enrolled well-screened participants between the ages of 50 and 91 at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis. Investigators found a strong relationship between the results of the AD8 screening tool, and biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease, finding it identified the condition more efficiently and effectively than the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). [See my post, Aging Parents, Aging Boomers, Geriatric Competencies.]

According to the Brain article, “A positive AD8 screening test corresponded to lower performance on tests of episodic memory, supporting a clinical phenotype of Alzheimer’s disease.”

A HealthDay article reprinted in Businessweek, Family, Friends Seem Best at Spotting Early Dementia also provides information. Posted on  the Alzheimer’s Forum is a reprint of a related Neurology article by the same lead author, The AD8: A Brief Informant Interview to Detect Dementia.

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