Assessments for dementia in people with learning disabilities
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Assessments for dementia in people with learning disabilities

Blanca Poveda Clinical psychologist, Clinical neuropsychology department, Astley Ainslie Hospital, Edinburgh
Sarah Broxholme Clinical psychologist, Psychological Therapies Service, NHS Tayside, Dundee

Evaluation of a dementia battery developed for people with mild to moderate learning disabilities

Objectives A learning disabilities’ dementia battery was developed to assess cognitive abilities in individuals referred to the learning disabilities service because of concerns of possible dementia. The present study aimed to establish concurrent validity with previously validated measures of cognitive ability and its clinical effectiveness in detecting dementia in this population.

Methods Fifty five individuals aged 29 and over (range: 29 to 71), received a baseline and a follow-up assessment using the dementia battery between 2000 and 2010. Differences in performance between individuals allocated to ‘probable’, ‘unsure’ and ‘no’ dementia groupings were investigated at domain and subtest level, as well as overall performance. Results on the battery were compared with clinically relevant measures of dementia also included in the local assessment protocol.

Results Significant differences in overall performance were found between the ‘probable’ and ‘no’ dementia groups as well as cognitive domain-specific differences. No differences were found at subtest level. Good concurrent validity was found between the battery and comparable measures of change within the dementia assessment protocol, namely the VABS, DMR and BPVS II.

Conclusions The learning disabilities’ dementia battery appears to be a good measure, which can be used longitudinally, to detect change in individuals and help establish a diagnosis of dementia. It is also comparable with other measures of change incorporated in the dementia assessment protocol. Subtests included in the language domain appear to be the most relevant at detecting significant changes between baseline and follow up. Future studies should attempt to standardise this measure and establish cut-off scores.

Learning Disability Practice. 19, 1,31-40. doi: 10.7748/ldp.19.1.31.s23


Peer review

This article has been subject to double-blind review and has been checked using antiplagiarism software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 06 October 2015

Accepted: 25 November 2015