AD8 dementia screening interview for caregivers
The AD8 is an 8 item questionnaire that can help distinguish people with dementia from others. This is an informant-based assessment because instead of interviewing the patient, the patient’s informant (usually a spouse, child, or non-family caregiver) is asked to assess whether there is had changes in recent years in some areas of cognition and functioning. These include memory, orientation, executive functioning, and interest in activities. The AD8 has a yes or no format and only takes about 3 minutes. As with any Alzheimer’s test, AD8 is a screening test and does not replace a thorough diagnostic workup for Alzheimer’s disease.
Scoring for AD8 is extremely straightforward: two or more “yes” responses are strongly suggestive of dementia, with the test having a sensitivity of 85% and specificity of 86%. Sensitivity refers to the accuracy of the test in identifying people with the disease (that is, people who have a positive Alzheimer’s test). Specificity refers to the test’s effectiveness in identifying people who do not have the disease (that is, people without testing negative for the disease).
Besides its use as a screening test for Alzheimer’s disease, AD8 is particularly useful for involving the caregiver. Caregivers can complete AD8 at home with their loved one present, and then bring the results to the appointment, which can help the clinician diagnose and treat dementia more effectively.
Overall advantages and disadvantages
AD8 is a reliable and quickly administered Alzheimer’s test that can be performed at home or in other settings. It has an extremely simple scoring system, with two or more “yes” responses suggesting that further diagnostic testing is warranted. One downside is that an informant may not be available.