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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2007 Oct;55(10):1630-5. Epub 2007 Aug 14.

A comparison of computerized and pencil-and-paper tasks in assessing cognitive function in community-dwelling older people in the Newcastle 85+ Pilot Study.

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  • 1Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, Newcastle General Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.



To compare the acceptability and feasibility of computerized and pencil-and-paper tests of cognitive function in 85-year-old people.


Group comparison of participants randomly allocated to pencil-and-paper (Wechsler Adult Intelligence and Memory Scales) or computerized (Cognitive Drug Research) tests of verbal memory and attention.


The Newcastle 85+ Pilot Study was the precursor to the Newcastle 85+ Study a United Kingdom Medical Research Council/Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council cohort study of health and aging in the oldest-old age group.


Eighty-one community-dwelling individuals aged 85.


Participant and researcher acceptability, completion rates, time taken, validity as cognitive measures, and psychometric utility.


Participants randomized to computerized tests were less likely to rate the cognitive function tests as difficult (odds ratio (OR)=0.16, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.07-0.39), stressful (OR=0.18, 95% CI=0.07-0.45), or unacceptable (OR=0.18, 95% CI=0.08-0.48) than those randomized to pencil-and-paper tests. Researchers were also less likely to rate participants as being distressed in the computer test group (OR=0.19, 95% CI=0.07-0.46). Pencil-and-paper tasks took participants less time to complete (mean+/-standard deviation 18+/-4 minutes vs 26+/-4 minutes) but had fewer participants who could complete all tasks (91% vs 100%). Both types of task were equally good measures of cognitive function.


Computerized and pencil-and-paper tests are both feasible and useful means of assessing cognitive function in the oldest-old age group. Computerized tests are more acceptable to participants and administrators.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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