Prospective study of brief neuropsychological measures to assess crash risk in older primary care patients

Sandra E. Lesikar, Joseph J. Gallo, George W. Rebok, Penelope M. Keyl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Practicing primary care physicians often encounter the difficult clinical situation of evaluating the older driver. We wanted to investigate the relation between self-reported driving behavior, neuropsychological measures, and crash risk to inform the development of a test battery that could predict unsafe driving behavior and was feasible for use by primary care physicians. Methods: This study was a prospective follow-up of 107 drivers aged 65 years and older recruited from a primary care setting in 1995. Tests of attention, visual information processing, spatial orientation, and general mental status were administered at baseline. At baseline and after 2 years of follow-up, patients were asked about their driving history using the driving questionnaire. Risk for reported crashes in the follow-up period was assessed in relation to baseline driving history and measures of cognition. Results: Baseline self-reports of driving habits and attitudes were associated with an increased risk of reporting a crash after 2 years of follow-up (relative risk ratio = 5.31; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.63, 44.63). In addition, baseline tests of attention, visual information processing, and spatial orientation were associated with an increased risk of reporting motor vehicle crash at follow-up. For example, respondents with poor performance on the Trail Making Test - part A, were almost four times more likely to report a crash at follow-up (risk ratio = 3.15; 95% CI, 0.76, 13.07). Conclusion: Although our conclusions are tempered by small sample size, this preliminary study suggests that brief cognitive tests and simple questions about driving habits warrant further investigation as indicators of crash risk with potential utility for assessing older drivers in primary care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-19
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Practice
Volume15
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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