Assessing the cognitive health of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) can be performed using online telehealth, with results similar to in-person testing, researchers working with a patient group reported.
The study, “A validation study for remote testing of cognitive function in multiple sclerosis,” was published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal.
Evaluating cognitive function is important for the management of, and research into, MS. Traditionally, assessments of thinking skills are done in person, and under the supervision of a specialist such as a neuropsychologist. But in-person assessments are not always practical, whether because hundreds or thousands of patients are taking part in a study, or because world events such as the COVID-19 pandemic make in-person hospital visits inadvisable.
Researchers in the U.S. developed a remote, technician-guided and web-based tool to assess cognition in MS patients using California Verbal Learning Test, Second Edition (CVLT-II) and the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT), two validated measurements of assessing memory and processing speed.
In a previous study, this research team showed that CVLT-II assessments performed by conventional in-person and remotely yielded comparable results.
“Herein, we aimed to replicate these results and extend them to the SDMT,” the scientists wrote.
In total, 100 adults with either relapsing-remitting MS or secondary progressive MS underwent two assessments using the CVLT-II and SDMT: one online and the other in person. Half of these participants did the online assessment first, while the other half started with the in-person assessment. At least one week separated the two evaluations.
Results showed scores between remote and in-person assessments to be strongly and significantly correlated. That is, a person given a specific score on one of the assessments was likely to earn the same or a similar score on the other assessment. The correlations did not change significantly based on whether participants did remote or in-person testing first.
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