The five word test (FWT) allows a quick assessment of verbal episodic memory consistent with the neuropsychological concept of Grober and Buschke (1987). The principal steps of the FWT are: avoiding attention deficits by inducing specific semantic processing, control of encoding, use of free and cued recall. Cued recall helps to differentiate recall from storage impairment, difficulty with the latter being more indicative of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
The objective of this study was to evaluate total FWT scores (i.e. the sum of free and cued recalls) and total weighted FWT scores (which give a higher weighting to free recall) and to evaluate how the two perform in screening for AD.
The evaluation was performed on 4116 subjects (of whom 73 had AD and were aged 65 or more) randomly selected from a population-based cohort coming from two French towns in the “Three cities study”.
The total score was more specific than sensitive with a maximal sensitivity of 53 percent and a specificity of 91 percent. The total weighted score significantly increased sensitivity (83.6 percent) with preserved specificity (84.9 percent) and positive predictive value (9.1 percent).
The paper concludes that the FWT permits quick screening of subjects to indicate which need further neuropsychological tests to diagnose AD. The capacity of this simple test to screen for AD is improved by a simple weighting procedure: the total weighted score.
© 2005 Elsevier Masson SAS. Tous droits réservés.