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The incremental value of neuropsychological assessment: a critical review. Clin Neuropsychol 2019

Objective: The purpose of this critical review was to evaluate the current state of research regarding the incremental value of neuropsychological assessment in clinical practice, above and beyond what can be accounted for on the basis of demographic, medical, and other diagnostic variables. The focus was on neurological and other medical conditions across the lifespan where there is known risk for presence or future development of cognitive impairment.

Method: Eligible investigations were group studies that had been published after 01/01/2000 in English in peer-reviewed journals and that had used standardized neuropsychological measures and reported on objective outcome criterion variables. They were identified through PubMed and PsychInfo electronic databases on the basis of predefined specific selection criteria. Reference lists of identified articles were also reviewed to identify potential additional sources. The Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation Working Group’s (GRADE) criteria were used to evaluate quality of studies.

Results: Fifty-six studies met the final selection criteria, including 2 randomized-controlled trials, 9 prospective cohort studies, 12 retrospective cohort studies, 21 inception cohort studies, 2 case control studies, and 10 case series studies. The preponderance of the evidence was strongly supportive with regard to the incremental value of neuropsychological assessment in the care of persons with mild cognitive impairment/dementia and traumatic brain injury. Evidence was moderately supportive with regard to stroke, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Participation in neuropsychological evaluations was also associated with cost savings.

Conclusions: Neuropsychological assessment can improve both diagnostic classification and prediction of long-term daily-life outcomes in patients across the lifespan. Future high-quality prospective cohort studies and randomized-controlled trials are necessary to demonstrate more definitively the incremental value of neuropsychological assessment in the management of patients with various neurological and other medical conditions.