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January 1993

Memory Evaluation in Alzheimer's Disease: Caregivers' Appraisals and Objective Testing

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Neurology, Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland (Ohio) (Drs Koss, Patterson, Whitehouse, and Stuckey) and the North Eastern Ohio Universities, College of Medicine (Dr Ownby). Dr Ownby is now with the University of Miami (Fla) School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry.

Arch Neurol. 1993;50(1):92-97. doi:10.1001/archneur.1993.00540010086023

• Objectives.  —To evaluate if caregivers are reliable informants concerning memory deficits in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Design.  —Responses of caregivers of patients with probable AD and responses of healthy control subjects on a standardized memory questionnaire were compared with objective measures of cognition (Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease neuropsychological battery) and with clinical estimates of activities of daily living, depression, and psychopathology (Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease [CERAD] clinical assessment battery) using the Self-report Memory Questionnaire.

Setting.  —A federally funded AD research center.

Subjects.  —The referred sample included 117 patients with probable AD, their informants, and 41 healthy control subjects age-matched to the patients. Patients and control subjects were between the ages of 58 and 85 years, had between 9 and 19 years of education, and were in good health.

Exclusions.  —Patients who did not meet NINCDS-ADRDA criteria of probable AD.

Main Outcome Measure.  —The optimal number of questionnaire items yielding the best combination of sensitivity and specificity.

Results.  —An abbreviated version of the scale, renamed the Short-Memory Questionnaire, had excellent specificity and sensitivity for identifying dementia. Positive and negative predictive values were 63.5% and near 100%, respectively. The Short-Memory Questionnaire showed good reliability, internal consistency, and external validity. Caregiver appraisals of memory deficits significantly correlated with objective measures of memory and also with generalized cognitive dysfunction.

Conclusions.  —Caregivers of patients with AD are reliable informants of their relatives' deficits. The Short-Memory Questionnaire is an easily administered, informant-based scale that may be useful in clinical settings or epidemiologic studies to screen out persons with memory difficulties.

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