Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Neurology. 2008 Nov 4;71(19):1474-80. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000334301.32358.48.

Medical decision-making capacity in mild cognitive impairment: a 3-year longitudinal study.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, SC 650K, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294-0017, USA.



To investigate longitudinal change in the medical decision-making capacity (MDC) of patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) under different consent standards.


Eighty-eight healthy older controls and 116 patients with MCI were administered the Capacity to Consent to Treatment Instrument at baseline and at 1 to 3 (mean = 1.7) annual follow-up visits thereafter. Covariate-adjusted random coefficient regressions were used to examine differences in MDC trajectories across MCI and control participants, as well as to investigate the impact of conversion to Alzheimer disease on MCI patients' MDC trajectories.


At baseline, MCI patients performed significantly below controls only on the three clinically relevant standards of appreciation, reasoning, and understanding. Compared with controls, MCI patients experienced significant declines over time on understanding but not on any other consent standard. Conversion affected both the elevation (a decrease in performance) and slope (acceleration in subsequent rate of decline) of MCI patients' MDC trajectories on understanding. A trend emerged for conversion to be associated with a performance decrease on reasoning in the MCI group.


Medical decision-making capacity (MDC) decline in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a relatively slow but detectable process. Over a 3-year period, patients with amnestic MCI show progressive decline in the ability to understand consent information. This decline accelerates after conversion to Alzheimer disease (AD), reflecting increasing vulnerability to decisional impairment. Clinicians and researchers working with MCI patients should give particular attention to the informed consent process when conversion to AD is suspected or confirmed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk