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Exp Aging Res. 1997 Oct-Dec;23(4):301-13.

Executive control and the comprehension of medical information by elderly retirees.

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Department of Psychiatry, South Texas Veterans' Healthcare System, Audie L. Murphy Division Geriatric Research Education Clinical Center, San Antonio, USA.


This study examined the independent contributions of executive control function, general cognition, age, education, and medication usage to the comprehension of medical information. Randomly selected elderly retirees (N = 105) more than 70 years of age completed the Executive Interview (EXIT25), the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE), and the Hopkins Competency Assessment Test (HCAT). Cognitive measures were stronger predictors of HCAT scores than age, education, or number of prescribed medications. A discriminant model based on EXIT25 and MMSE scores correctly classified 91% of subjects relative to their HCAT scores. It was concluded that executive impairment is strongly associated with impaired comprehension of medical information. As many as 88% of probable Alzheimer's disease patients, 69% of institutionalized elderly retirees, and 49% of noninstitutionalized retirees may be impaired in their ability to comprehend medical information, even when it has been presented well below their educational level.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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