In-person versus virtual administration of the American College of Radiology gold standard cognitive battery in systemic lupus erythematosus: are they interchangeable?

Publication type
Journal article
Barraclough ML, Diaz-Martinez JP, Knight A, Bingham K, Su J, Kakvan M, Grajales CM, Tartaglia MC, Ruttan L, Wither J, Choi MY, Bonilla D, Anderson N, Appenzeller S, Parker B, Katz P, Beaton DE
Date published
2023 Apr 01
Open Access?

OBJECTIVE: During the COVID-19 pandemic, many research studies were adapted, including our longitudinal study examining cognitive impairment (CI) in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Cognitive testing was switched from in-person to virtual. This analysis aimed to determine if the administration method (in-person vs. virtual) of the ACR-neuropsychological battery (ACR-NB) affected participant cognitive performance and classification. METHODS: Data from our multi-visit, SLE CI study included demographic, clinical, and psychiatric characteristics, and the modified ACR-NB. Three analyses were undertaken for cognitive performance: (1) all visits, (2) non-CI group visits only and (3) intra-individual comparisons. A retrospective preferences questionnaire was given to participants who completed the ACR-NB both in-person and virtually. RESULTS: We analysed 328 SLE participants who had 801 visits (696 in-person and 105 virtual). Demographic, clinical, and psychiatric characteristics were comparable except for ethnicity, anxiety and disease-related damage. Across all three comparisons, six tests were consistently statistically significantly different. CI classification changed in 11/71 (15%) participants. 45% of participants preferred the virtual administration method and 33% preferred in-person. CONCLUSIONS: Of the 19 tests in the ACR-NB, we identified one or more problems with eight (42%) tests when moving from in-person to virtual administration. As the use of virtual cognitive testing will likely increase, these issues need to be addressed - potentially by validating a virtual version of the ACR-NB. Until then, caution must be taken when directly comparing virtual to in-person test results. If future studies use a mixed administration approach, this should be accounted for during analysis