COPD is associated with cognitive impairment. These impairments should be diagnosed, but due to time- and budget-reasons, they are often not investigated. The aim of this study is to examine the viability of a brief computerized cognitive test battery, Central Nervous System Vital Signs (CNSVS), in COPD patients.
Patients with COPD referred to tertiary pulmonary rehabilitation were included. Cognitive functioning of patients was assessed with CNSVS before pulmonary rehabilitation and compared with age-corrected CNSVS norms. CNSVS is a 30 minute computerized test battery that includes tests of verbal and visual memory, psychomotor speed, processing speed, cognitive flexibility, complex attention, executive functioning, and reaction time.
CNSVS was fully completed by 205 (93.2%, 105 females, 100 males) of the total group of patients (n=220, 116 females, 104 males). Z-tests showed that COPD patients performed significantly worse than the norms on all CNSVS cognitive domains. Slightly more than half of the patients (51.8%) had impaired functioning on 1 or more cognitive domains. Patients without computer experience performed significantly worse on CNSVS than patients using the computer frequently.
The completion rate of CNSVS was high and cognitive dysfunctions measured with this screening were similar to the results found in prior research, including paper and pen cognitive tests. These results support the viability of this brief computerized cognitive screening in COPD patients, that may lead to better care for these patients. Cognitive performance of patients with little computer experience should be interpreted carefully. Future research on this issue is needed.