Diagnosing dementia can be challenging for clinicians, given the array of factors that contribute to changes in cognitive function. The Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination III (ACE-III) is commonly used in dementia assessments, covering the domains of attention, memory, fluency, visuospatial and language. This study aims to (1) assess the reliability of ACE-III to differentiate between dementia, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and controls and (2) establish whether the ACE-III is useful for diagnosing dementia subtypes. Client records from the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) Memory Service (n = 2,331, 2013–2019) were used in the analysis including people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (n = 637), vascular dementia (n = 252), mixed dementia (n = 490), MCI (n = 920) and controls (n = 32). There were significant differences in total ACE-III and subdomain scores between people with dementia, MCI and controls (p < 0.05 for all), with little overlap between distribution of total ACE-III scores (< 39%) between groups. The distribution of total ACE-III and subdomain scores across all dementias were similar. There were significant differences in scores for attention, memory and fluency between Alzheimer’s disease and mixed dementia, and for visuospatial and language between Alzheimer’s disease–vascular dementia (p < 0.05 for all). However, despite the significant differences across these subdomains, there was a high degree of overlap between these scores (> 73%) and thus the differences are not clinically relevant. The results suggest that ACE-III is a useful tool for discriminating between dementia, MCI and controls, but it is not reliable for discriminating between dementia subtypes. Nonetheless, the ACE-III is still a reliable tool for clinicians that can assist in making a dementia diagnosis in combination with other factors at assessment.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors acknowledge the Atlantic Philanthropies, Department of Health and The Executive Office, Northern Ireland, for funding as part of the Dementia Analytics and Research User Group project (Reference Number 17-F-1801). The authors are grateful to the staff from the NHSCT Memory Service in Northern Ireland and control participants for their time, effort and support in participating in this research.
© 2021, The Author(s).
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Cognitive assessment
- Cognitive screening test
- NHSCT Memory Service
- Vascular dementia