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New database helps clinicians, researchers find instruments to detect cognitive impairment in older adults

July 23, 2013


Evaluating the cognitive status of older patients in the primary care setting is one of the first steps in determining the cause of problems with memory, attention, and other aspects of thinking that can affect their health and well-being. With dozens of instruments available, finding the right ones to use can be a challenge. Now, clinicians and researchers have a new and simple way to find appropriate instruments—through a searchable database from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health.

The database, available at www.nia.nih.gov/research/cognitive-instrument, contains detailed information about more than 100 published instruments for detecting Alzheimer’s disease and other types of cognitive impairment. It was created by NIA staff in consultation with experts in the field. Many instruments are suitable for outpatient practices and community studies. Each instrument in the database was developed as a cognitive assessment for age-related dementia and has had at least three published studies using the instrument since its debut and at least one publication in the last 10 years.

Users can search the database by specific criteria, such as time to administer the instrument, the administrator’s level of expertise, cost, and target diagnosis. They can also find instruments that have been evaluated in specific populations and translated into languages other than English. Each instrument is summarized, with references cited and linked for easy access.

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