Efficient and user-friendly neurocognitive screens are needed that are sensitive to the variety of neurocognitive disorder presentations to primary care. The UCSF Brain Health Assessment was developed to efficiently measure the cognitive domains that can be affected in the earliest stages of neurocognitive decline, including memory, executive functions / speed, visuospatial skills, language, behavior, and function. Four subtests and an optional informant survey are administered via an appealing tablet interface and with automated scoring and provider feedback. Preliminary validation studies indicate excellent combined sensitivity and specificity to cognitive impairment among English-speaking older adults with moderate to high levels of education. The primary goals of the proposed work are to optimize and validate the BHA for older adults who are diverse in terms of education and language spoken, to perform cross-validation studies of other paradigms funded by this award, and to evaluate and address barriers to detecting cognitive impairment in primary care. Education and English as a second language each impact cognitive test performance and are barriers to accurate detection of cognitive impairment. This project will address these health disparities by including persons with diverse levels of education and persons whose primary language is Spanish, Mandarin, or Cantonese in both validation and implementation studies.
In Aim 1, we will evaluate the validity of the BHA for the detection of cognitive impairment in well-characterized and expertly diagnosed English-speaking older adults with low, moderate, or high education.
In Aim 2, we will evaluate the validity of the BHA for the detection of cognitive impairment in well-characterized and expertly diagnosed Spanish-, Cantonese-, or Mandarin-speaking older adults.
In Aim 3, we will identify and address implementation challenges in primary care practices that serve patients diverse in terms of education and language spoken. If successful, this project will lead to increased detection of cognitive impairment in everyday community settings, which is essential to enable differential diagnosis and to improve medical management for people with cognitive impairment, including dementia, in the United States.

Public Health Relevance

Early detection of neurocognitive disorders is highly beneficial for patients and families, yet cognitive impairment and dementia are frequently under-recognized. The UCSF Brain Health Assessment is designed to rapidly detect cognitive impairment in primary care and other everyday clinical settings. The proposed research will establish the feasibility of this assessment to increase cognitive impairment detection rates among patients with different levels of education and who speak English, Spanish, Cantonese, or Mandarin.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
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Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZNS1)
Program Officer
Moy, Claudia S
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University of California San Francisco
Schools of Medicine
San Francisco
United States
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Possin, Katherine L; Moskowitz, Tacie; Erlhoff, Sabrina J et al. (2018) The Brain Health Assessment for Detecting and Diagnosing Neurocognitive Disorders. J Am Geriatr Soc 66:150-156