Assessing the Risk and Progression of Dementia Using Home-Based Tools

Trials for the development of the latest preventive and therapeutic treatments for the disease of Alzheimer are expensive and complicated.

A new study was led by researchers in which many home-based methods were evaluated in order to observe the cognitive function and its decline in people over the age of 75. Roughly 600 people took part in the study of home-based assessment, all of which had previously been diagnosed as either patient of Mild Cognitive Impairment or having normal cognitive abilities.

The study had three main objectives, firstly, the establishment of efficiency and feasibility of the home-based assessments, secondly, the capture of cognitive change over time by the home-based assessments, and thirdly, the evaluation of the adherence of participants in using the prescribed medicine.

“We wanted to know if we could remotely assess cognition and other outcomes using various types of technology,” said Dr. Mary Sano, first author of the study. “We needed to know this because prevention of dementia studies are long and assessing people in their home may reduce the burden of traveling to medical centers for study participants.”

The researchers further wanted to know if the assessments that were home-based would enhance the retention rates of participants, lower the cost of studies, and also develop a better robust representation of different study participants.

The feasibility was checked according to the ability of screening, recruiting, enrolling and retaining the participants whereas the efficiency was calculated by observing time taken to finish the assessment and by the number of contacts of the site staff.

The team concluded that all 3 methods were feasible with slightly different rates of success. The rates of dropout were similar and lower across technologies, but participants with kiosk tools set up at their homes usually dropped out earlier.

“This study taught us how to engage a diverse community of very elderly subjects with a mean age over 80 years in web-based data collection, as well as in traditional testing methods over multiple years,” said Sano.

“We are always looking at ways to improve cognitive assessments by the most effective and expedient means possible. If we can make participating in clinical research easier on participants, through tools they are comfortable using, everyone benefits. This study is another reminder that human interaction is an important part of successful clinical trials.”