One Size Does Not Fit All: Choosing Practical Cognitive Screening Tools for Your Practice
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Every year, millions of patients worldwide undergo cognitive testing. Unfortunately, new barriers to the use of free open access cognitive screening tools have arisen over time, making accessibility of tools unstable. This article is in follow-up to an editorial discussing alternative cognitive screening tools for those who cannot afford the costs of the Mini-Mental State Examination and Montreal Cognitive Assessment (see www.dementiascreen.ca). The current article outlines an emerging disruptive "free-to-fee" cycle where free open access cognitive screening tools are integrated into clinical practice and guidelines, where fees are then levied for the use of the tools, resulting in clinicians moving on to other tools. This article provides recommendations on means to break this cycle, including the development of tool kits of valid cognitive screening tools that authors have contracted not to charge for (i.e., have agreed to keep free open access). The PRACTICAL.1 Criteria (PRACTIcing Clinician Accessibility and Logistical Criteria Version 1) are introduced to help clinicians select from validated cognitive screening tools, considering barriers and facilitators, such as whether the cognitive screening tools are easy to score and free of cost. It is suggested that future systematic reviews embed the PRACTICAL.1 criteria, or refined future versions, as part of the standard of review. Methodological issues, the need for open access training to insure proper use of cognitive screening tools, and the need to anticipate growing ethnolinguistic diversity by developing tools that are less sensitive to educational, cultural, and linguistic bias are discussed in this opinion piece.
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