Teleneuropsychology in the time of COVID-19: The experience of The Australian Epilepsy Project
AuthorTailby, C; Collins, AJ; Vaughan, DN; Abbott, DF; O'Shea, M; Helmstaedter, C; Jackson, GD
Source TitleSeizure: European Journal of Epilepsy
PublisherW B SAUNDERS CO LTD
University of Melbourne Author/sAbbott, David; Tailby, Christopher; Jackson, Graeme; O'Shea, Marie; Vaughan, David; Collins, Alana
AffiliationMelbourne School of Psychological Sciences
Florey Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsTailby, C., Collins, A. J., Vaughan, D. N., Abbott, D. F., O'Shea, M., Helmstaedter, C. & Jackson, G. D. (2020). Teleneuropsychology in the time of COVID-19: The experience of The Australian Epilepsy Project. SEIZURE-EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF EPILEPSY, 83, pp.89-97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.seizure.2020.10.005.
Access StatusAccess this item via the Open Access location
Open Access URLPublished version
Open Access at PMChttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7561524
NHMRC Grant codeNHMRC/1091593
PURPOSE: Traditional neuropsychological testing carries elevated COVID-19 risk for both examinee and examiner. Here we describe how the pilot study of the Australian Epilepsy Project (AEP) has transitioned to tele-neuropsychology (teleNP), enabling continued safe operations during the pandemic. METHODS: The AEP includes adults (age 18-60) with a first unprovoked seizure, new diagnosis of epilepsy or drug resistant focal epilepsy. Shortly after launching the study, COVID-related restrictions necessitated adaptation to teleNP, including delivery of verbal tasks via videoconference; visual stimulus delivery via document camera; use of web-hosted, computerised assessment; substitution of oral versions for written tests; online delivery of questionnaires; and discontinuation of telehealth incompatible tasks. RESULTS: To date, we have completed 24 teleNP assessments: 18 remotely (participant in own home) and six on-site (participant using equipment at research facility). Five face-to-face assessments were conducted prior to the transition to teleNP. Eight of 408 tests administered via teleNP (1.9 %) have been invalidated, for a variety of reasons (technical, procedural, environmental). Data confirm typical patterns of epilepsy-related deficits (p < .05) affecting processing speed, executive function, language and memory. Questionnaire responses indicate elevated rates of patients at high risk of mood (34 %) and anxiety disorder (38 %). CONCLUSION: Research teleNP assessments reveal a typical pattern of impairments in epilepsy. A range of issues must be considered when introducing teleNP, such as technical and administrative set up, test selection and delivery, and cohort suitability. TeleNP enables large-scale neuropsychological research during periods of social distancing (and beyond), and offers an opportunity to expand the reach and breadth of neuropsychological services.
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