Singapore-developed dementia screening tool goes global

The VCAT addresses the challenges of dementia screening in multi-lingual countries.

The National Neuroscience Institute announced the global release of their Visual Cognitive Assessment Test (VCAT) on 8 November.

The VCAT, a screening tool that can detect mild cognitive impairment (pre-dementia) and dementia, are now being validated in Brazil, India, South Korea, and Canada. Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are currently using the test.

"Most cognitive tests developed for monolingual Western populations and were written and validated in English. The issue poses a significant barrier for use in countries like Singapore with diverse cultures, languages and dialects because translating the tests is often not possible without affecting its validity," said Dementia Programme Director Nagaendran Kandiah.

For example, some of the widely used screening tests ask participants to name as many words as possible beginning with the letter F, but this is not possible with languages such as Chinese and Tamil, which do not use the Latin alphabet. Also, words and images used to test memory recall and repetition are not always relevant in other cultures.

VCAT was highlighted in the World Alzheimer Report 2021 as a practical and effective way to screen for dementia in multi-lingual countries. Alzheimer's International published the report on World Alzheimer's Day, which fell on 21 September this year.

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