Healthy Aging Brain Care Tool Allows Quick Assessment of Cognitive Function

Patrick Monahan, Ph.D. Associate Professor Indiana University School of Medicine and School of Public Interview with:
Patrick Monahan, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Indiana University School of Medicine and School of Public Health

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Monahan: Primary care providers need a clinical practical (e.g., brief, inexpensive, simple, user-friendly, easily standardized, and widely available) multidomain instrument to measure and monitor the cognitive, functional, and psychological symptoms of patients suffering from multiple chronic conditions. The tool also needs to be sensitive to change so that providers can use it to monitor patient outcomes and adjust the care plan accordingly. We created such a tool and then investigated its psychometric properties (in other words, reliability and validity) in our study of 291 older patients (aged 65 and older) who had at least one recent visit to our urban primary care clinics in Indianapolis, Indiana. These patients had presented with evidence of cognitive or depression problems because these patients and their caregivers were participating in a collaborative care model for such patients.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Monahan: The Healthy Aging Brain Care (HABC) Monitor demonstrated excellent reliability and validity in this study where patients self-reported their symptoms. Our previous study also showed excellent reliability and validity of the HABC Monitor when the patients’ symptoms were reported by their informal caregiver.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Monahan: The patient Self-Report HABC Monitor can be used along with the Caregiver-report version of the tool to provide useful feedback (via monitoring of symptoms) for modifying care plans.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Monahan: We are in the process of developing a briefer 10-item version of the HABC Monitor which was requested by our clinical colleagues for the busy primary setting. As with the current tool, the briefer version is relevant for all primary care patients, but especially relevant for patients and their caregivers being treated with a collaborative care model for treating depression and cognitive impairment, given the importance of the cognitive, psychological, and functional domains. However, those domains are important for all patients in primary care who may suffer from a variety of chronic conditions. In addition, we are building on the HABC Monitor to develop a broader multidomain (but still relatively brief, for example, 20-item) tool that covers additional domains, such as actionable physical symptoms, to monitor the symptoms patients who attend primary care with a range of multiple chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, stroke, dementia, traumatic brain injury, heart failure, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and chronic musculoskeletal disorders.


The Healthy Aging Brain Care (HABC) Monitor: Validation of the Patient Self-Report Version of the Clinical Tool Designed to Measure and Monitor Cognitive, Functional, and Psychological Health
Clinical Interventions in Aging

Patrick O Monahan,1 Catherine A Alder,2–4 Babar A Khan,1–3 Timothy Stump,1 Malaz A Boustani1–4

December 2014 Volume 2014:9 Pages 2123—2132

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Last Updated on December 31, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD