Screening for Alzheimer’s Disease Among Illiterate Elderly: Accuracy Analysis for Multiple Instruments
One of the challenges in screening for dementia in developing countries is related to performance differences due to educational and cultural factors. This study evaluated the accuracy of single screening tests as well as combined protocols including the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Verbal Fluency animal category (VF), Clock Drawing test (CDT), and Pfeffer Functional Activities Questionnaire (PFAQ) to discriminate illiterate elderly with and without Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in a clinical sample. Cross-sectional study with 66 illiterate outpatients diagnosed with mild and moderate AD and 40 illiterate normal controls. Diagnosis of AD was based on NINCDS-ADRDA. All patients were submitted to a diagnostic protocol including a clinical interview based on the CAMDEX sections. ROC curves area analyses were carried out to compare sensitivity and specificity for the cognitive tests to differentiate the two groups (each test separately and in two by two combinations). Scores for all cognitive (MMSE, CDT, VF) and functional assessments (PFAQ) were significantly different between the two groups (p < 0.001). The best screening instruments for this sample of illiterate elderly were the MMSE and the PFAQ. The cut-off scores for the MMSE, VF, CDT, and PFAQ were 17.5, 7.5, 2.5, and 11.5, respectively. The most sensitive combination came from the MMSE and PFAQ (94.1%), and the best specificity was observed with the combination of the MMSE and CDT (89%). Illiterate patients can be successfully screened for AD using well-known screening instruments, especially in combined protocols.
from the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease