The disappearing subject: Exclusion of people with cognitive impairment and dementia from geriatrics research

Janelle S. Taylor, Shaune M. Demers, Elizabeth K. Vig, Soo Borson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives To evaluate exclusion of persons with cognitive impairment from research in geriatrics by determining its frequency, method, and rationale and treatment in the resulting publications. Design All original research articles published in 2008 and 2009 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (n = 434) were reviewed using a structured data collection tool. Setting The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Participants There were no participants in this study. Measurements Data captured included recruitment method, explicit criterion for exclusion of persons with cognitive impairment, justification of exclusion criterion, reason given for exclusion, percentage of individuals excluded, and mention of exclusion as a possible limitation. Results Of 434 articles examined, 16% used recruitment methods likely to reduce participation by persons with cognitive impairment. At least 29% of studies (n = 127) employed explicit exclusion criteria. Half used the Folstein Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), with variable cut points (10, 12, 17, 18, 23, 26), and 19% excluded individuals for "having dementia" without specifying how this was determined. Few (6%) provided any justification for exclusion criteria used, only 43% gave any reason for exclusion, and only 14% discussed exclusion as a possible limitation. Conclusion Persons with cognitive impairment are frequently excluded from research, often without rationale or mention of exclusion as a limitation or any discussion of its potential effect on the evidence base in geriatrics. When necessary, exclusion should be done thoughtfully and with awareness that this may reduce the clinical utility of study findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-419
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Volume60
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012

Keywords

  • exclusion criteria
  • research methodologies

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