Clinical and Economic Characteristics of Milestones Along the Continuum of Alzheimer's Disease: Transforming Functional Scores into Levels of Dependence

Kahle-Wrobleski, Kristin; Andrews, Jeffrey Scott; Belger, Mark; Gauthier, Serge; Stern, Yaakov; Rentz, Dorene M.; Galasko, Douglas

BACKGROUND: Because Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by a gradual decline, it can be difficult to identify distinct clinical milestones that signal disease advancement. Adapting a functional scale may be a useful way of staging disease progression that is more informative for healthcare systems. Objectives: To adapt functional scale scores into discrete levels of dependence as a way of staging disease progression that is more informative to care providers and stakeholders who rely on the functional impact of diseases to determine access to supportive services and interventions. Design: Analysis of data from the GERAS study. Setting: GERAS is an 18-month prospective, multicenter, naturalistic, observational cohort study reflecting the routine care of patients with AD in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Participants: Data were from baseline results of 1497 community-living patients, aged ≥55 years, diagnosed with probable AD and their caregivers. Measurements: We used data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study Activities of Daily Living Inventory (ADCS-ADL) and mapped items onto established categories of functional dependence, validated using clinical and economic measures. Cognitive function, behavioral symptoms, caregiver burden, and cost were assessed. Based on stages of functional dependence described by the Dependence Scale, individual ADCS-ADL items were used to approximate 6 dependence levels. Results: There was a significant relationship between assigned level of dependence derived from the ADCS-ADL score and cognitive severity category. As the assigned level of dependence increased, the associated clinical and economic indicators demonstrated a pattern of greater disease severity. Conclusions: This mapping provides initial support for dependence levels as appropriate interim clinical milestones that characterize the functional deficits associated with AD.


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Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease

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February 22, 2018