A new questionnaire has been developed that very quickly determines whether or not a person has dementia and whether it's very mild, mild, moderate or severe. The 10-item questionnaire takes only 3-5 minutes and can be completed by a caregiver, friend or family member.
Testing on 239 individuals with various forms of dementia and 28 healthy controls has shown the results are comparable to the gold standard used presently, which takes several hours for an experienced professional to administer, interpret and score.
The "Quick Dementia Rating System" (QDRS) was developed by a leading neuroscientist, James E. Galvin, who has developed a number of dementia screening tools. The questionnaire covers:
- memory and recall
- decision-making and problem-solving abilities
- activities outside the home
- function at home and hobbies
- toileting and personal hygiene
- behavior and personality changes
- language and communication abilities
- attention and concentration.
The total score is derived by summing up the 10 fields and each area has five possible answers increasing in severity of symptoms. The 10 areas capture the prominent symptoms of mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's disease, and non-Alzheimer's neurocognitive disorders including Lewy Body Dementia, frontotemporal degeneration, vascular dementia, chronic traumatic encephalopathy and depression.
The speed and ease of this questionnaire makes it a very useful initial screening tool. However, there are several caveats to its use now. At the moment, it has only been validated in the context of a memory disorders clinic, where prevalence of MCI and dementia is high. The next step would be to evaluate it in the context of settings where dementia prevalence is lower, such as 'ordinary' health clinics. Additionally, most of the study participants were Caucasian. Most importantly, inter-rater reliability has not yet been assessed (that is, the degree to which different scorers agree).
The Quick Dementia Rating System is copyrighted and permission to use this tool is required. QDRS is available at no cost to clinicians, researchers and not-for-profit organizations.