Brief screening tests have been developed to measure cognitive performance and dementia, yet they measure limited cognitive domains and often lack construct validity. Neuropsychological assessments, while comprehensive, are too costly and time-consuming for epidemiological studies. This study's aim was to develop a psychometrically valid telephone administered test of cognitive function in aging.
Using a sequential hierarchical strategy, each stage of test development did not proceed until specified criteria were met. The 30 minute Cognitive Assessment of Later Life Status (CALLS) measure and a 2.5 hour in-person neuropsychological assessment were conducted with a randomly selected sample of 211 participants 65 years and older that included equivalent distributions of men and women from ethnically diverse populations.
Overall Cronbach's coefficient alpha for the CALLS test was 0.81. A principal component analysis of the CALLS tests yielded five components. The CALLS total score was significantly correlated with four neuropsychological assessment components. Older age and having a high school education or less was significantly correlated with lower CALLS total scores. Females scored better overall than males. There were no score differences based on race.
The CALLS test is a valid measure that provides a unique opportunity to reliably and efficiently study cognitive function in large populations.