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How good is the diagnostic test accuracy of telehealth assessment for dementia and mild cognitive impairment? A Cochrane Review summary with commentary.

NeuroRehabilitation 2023 March 32
BACKGROUND: It is estimated that 50% to 80% of people living with dementia worldwide remain undiagnosed and undocumented meaning and have no access to care and treatment. Telehealth services can be utilized as one of the options to improve access to a diagnosis, especially for people living in rural areas or affected by COVID-19 containment measures.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the diagnostic accuracy of telehealth assessment for dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

METHODS: A summary of the Cochrane Review by McCleery et al. 2021, with comments from a rehabilitation perspective.

RESULTS: Three cross-sectional diagnostic test accuracy studies (N = 136) were included. Participants were referred from primary care when presenting with cognitive symptoms or were identified as being at high risk of having dementia on a screening test in the care homes. The studies found that telehealth assessment correctly identified 80% to 100% of the people who were diagnosed with dementia during face-to-face assessment and also correctly identified 80% to 100% of people who did not have dementia. Only one study (N = 100) focused on MCI; 71% of participants who had MCI and 73% of participants who did not have MCI were correctly identified via telehealth assessment. Telehealth assessment in this study correctly identified 97% of the participants who had either MCI or dementia, but correctly identified only 22% of those who did not have either.

CONCLUSION: Telehealth assessment for diagnosing dementia seems to have a good level of accuracy when compared to face-to-face assessment, although the small number of studies and small sample sizes and differences between the included studies indicate that the results are uncertain.

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