Cross sectional study: a test to screen for Alzheimer’s disease
Is a self administered cognitive test to detect Alzheimer’s disease useful?
Dementia affects an estimated 24 million people worldwide. That number is expected to double every 20 years, and Alzheimer’s disease is the commonest form.1 In 2009, the UK Department of Health published their first ever national dementia strategy, one of its key aims being earlier diagnosis, facilitating earlier intervention.2 Definitive diagnosis can only be made at post-mortem, and clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease still presents a diagnostic challenge, especially in its early stages. The criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition revised, provide a guide, and there are complex research methods used to diagnose the disease, but these are diagnostic processes that require a lot of time and expertise.
Current guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence use the mini-mental state examination (MMSE) to determine whether drug treatment for Alzheimer’s disease should be prescribed.3 The mini-mental state examination is administered by