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Cognitive Testing Over Phone, in Person Found Similar

Study in older women supports cognitive assessment by phone, with benefits for subjects

MONDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Conducting neuropsychological tests by telephone may provide similar results as tests administered in person for assessing cognition in older woman, according to research published online Aug. 20 in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Effie M. Mitsis, Ph.D., of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues analyzed data from 54 healthy women (mean age, 79 years) who were randomly assigned to receive either an in-person battery of neuropsychological measures of cognitive functioning followed by telephone assessment four weeks later, or vice-versa. The assessment took roughly 45 minutes and included nearly a dozen tests.

The researchers found that subjects had statistically similar performance on most of the tests, whether given in person or by telephone. However, they performed better on the digit span backward test over the telephone and better on the Oral Trail Making Test Part A in person.

"We conclude that telephone assessment may be a useful, cost-effective alternative to in-person assessments for large scale epidemiological studies and may be effective in reducing attrition that often results in longitudinal clinical research studies of cognitive decline and dementia in an aging cohort, by reducing the burden associated with frequent follow up, in-person testing," the authors write. However, results suggest that "care should be taken in selecting the specific measures that are used in a neuropsychological battery administered by telephone."

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