Introducing Multiple Screener: An unsupervised digital screening tool for cognitive deficits in MS

L van Dongen, B Westerik, K van der Hiele, L H Visser, M M Schoonheim, L Douw, J W R Twisk, B A de Jong, J J G Geurts, H E Hulst

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BACKGROUND: Cognitive deficits affect up to 70% of all patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and have a significant impact on quality of life. Cognitive assessments need to be performed by a neuropsychologist and are often time-consuming, hampering timely identification and adequate monitoring of cognitive decline in MS.

OBJECTIVE: To develop a time-efficient, unsupervised, digital tool to screen for cognitive deficits in MS.

METHODS: A digital (adjusted) version of the Brief International Cognitive Assessment for MS, including the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT, information processing speed), the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT-II, verbal memory) and the Spatial Recall Test (SPART, visuospatial memory) was developed: Multiple Screener (intellectual property of Sanofi Genzyme). Firstly, the clarity and feasibility of the tool was confirmed by 16 patients with MS (mean age 50.9 years (SD 9.4, range 37-68). Next, in 60 healthy controls (HCs, mean age 44.5 years (SD 14.0, range 18-67), intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) were calculated to describe how strongly the digital version resembled the paper and pencil-based assessment. Finally, 236 HCs (mean age 42.8 years (SD 12.8, range 18-69) were included to obtain norm scores for each test.

RESULTS: ICCs between digital and paper and pencil-based assessment were excellent to good (SDMT (ICC 0.79, confidence interval (CI) 0.67-0.87); CVLT-II (ICC 0.77, CI 0.64-0.85); SPART (ICC 0.61, CI 0.42-0.75)). For each test, a regression-based correction for the effect of age was applied on the raw scores before converting them to norm Z-scores. Additionally, the SDMT scores needed correction for education and the CVLT-II for education and sex (subgroups were created).

CONCLUSIONS: Performance on an adjusted, digital version of the BICAMS correlates highly with the standard paper-and-pencil based test scores in HCs. Multiple Screener is an unsupervised, digital tool, with available norm scores, ultimately allowing for easy monitoring of cognitive decline in patients with MS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101479
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
Early online date30 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Cognitive impairment
  • Digital Screening tool
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Norm scores

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