A simple, self-administered exam accurately identifies early signs of dementia sooner than standard cognitive testing, researchers from The Ohio State University have found. The free exam gives clinicians a proven, objective measurement tool to aid in making treatment decisions over time, they say.
Questions contained in the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE) are designed to pick up signs of very mild impairment when compared to other tests, according to the developers. In a new study including more than 600 patients, they compared the scores of patients who took the SAGE with those who took the standardized Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE).
SAGE detected the conversion of mild cognitive impairment to dementia at least six months sooner than the MMSE, they found. In an earlier study, SAGE also was shown to have a sensitivity of 79% and a false positive rate of 5% in detecting cognitive impairment from normal subjects.
SAGE was developed to address a critical need for more timely assessment of age- and disease-related cognitive changes, Douglas Scharre, M.D., wrote in the current study, published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy. Being self-administered, it helps to remove some of the barriers to cognitive testing, he and his colleagues said. The test is also designed to be retaken at later dates if needed, with initial results used as a baseline comparison.
“[W]e know that the earlier cognitive impairment is detected, the more treatment choices a patient has and the better they work,” Scharre said in a statement.
The test has been made available for free online, alongside administration and scoring instructions for clinicians.