The Norwegian translation of the brief international cognitive assessment for multiple sclerosis (BICAMS)

Ellen Skorve, Astri J Lundervold, Øivind Torkildsen, Kjell-Morten Myhr
Multiple Sclerosis and related Disorders 2019 September 21, 36: 101408

BACKGROUND: Cognitive impairment is a common symptom in all stages of multiple sclerosis (MS), yet it is underreported and not routinely evaluated. The Brief International Cognitive Assessment for Multiple Sclerosis (BICAMS) is a short and easily administered test battery for screening of cognitive impairment in MS that can be completed within 15 min and incorporated into routine clinical practice. The test battery consists of the oral version of the Symbols Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) and the initial learning trials of the California Verbal Learning Test 2nd edition (CVLT-II) and the Brief Visuospatial Memory Test Revised (BVMT-R).

OBJECTIVE: To investigate if the Norwegian version of the BICAMS could identify cognitive impairment in early stages of MS and be used as part of routine follow-up procedures.

METHODS: A total of 65 relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients and 68 healthy controls were examined with the BICAMS test battery. A randomly selected subset of 29 controls were retested 1-4 weeks after baseline. All participants were screened for anxiety and depression using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).

RESULTS: There were statistically significant differences between the patients with MS and the healthy controls on all three subtests, and the differences remained significant for the CVLT-II (p = 0.003) and BVMT-R (p = 0.011) after adjusting for education. There were no statistically significant correlations between BICAMS scores and anxiety and depression. SDMT and BVMT-R results in the control group at baseline and re-test were strongly correlated (r ≥ 0.70, p < 0.001), and CVLT-II achieved an adequate value of r = 0.60 (p = 0.001). On the SDMT, there was a statistically significant improvement between the two test-sessions. Cognitive impairment, defined as an abnormal test score on ≥1 subtest, was identified in 46.2% of the patient sample, whereas 15.4% were considered cognitively impaired on ≥2 subtests.

CONCLUSION: This study supports that the Norwegian version of the BICAMS should be included as a screening procedure for cognitive impairment in Norwegian MS patients.

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