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Development and testing of an assessment battery for older drivers

The purpose of this project was to develop and test a comprehensive battery of assessment instruments for older drivers that was inexpensive and easy to administer. The resulting battery was developed by selecting a set of validated assessment instruments and combining them into a battery, whose total cost for acquisition was less than $900. As part of this battery, three questionnaires were developed utilizing items from established questionnaires with minor modifications. Subjects were requested to bring in each medication and supplement they were currently taking. Testing of the battery entailed administrating the battery to a convenience sample of 38 drivers aged 65 years or older. The time required to complete various portions of the battery was measured. Feedback about the battery was gathered from all subjects and the battery administrator. The study found that the assessment battery required on average less than one hour to complete. The study found that data from the assessment outcomes fell within normative ranges. In general, subjects had positive comments about the battery. Subjects felt the battery was acceptable, generally free of problems, had tasks presented in a good order, and was not too long. Most subjects felt that they did not need to bring in their medications in order to remember the names of those they were taking. Those taking several medications, however, were more likely to indicate that they might have difficulty remembering without bringing them in. We conclude, therefore, that the “brown bag” method for medication recall we used in testing should remain a part of the assessment battery. The test administrator was quite positive about the ease of administering each of the tests, except for the ruler drop test. Some subjects failed to catch the ruler, leading to difficulty in coding these outcomes. The ruler drop test was selected originally because it required no special equipment or technology. Simple reaction time is a straightforward ability to measure if technology, such as a computer, is utilized. Thus, we recommend that the ruler drop test be removed from the assessment battery and a technology-based reaction time test be included instead. In conclusion, the assessment battery described here is low-cost, transportatable, easy to administer, easy for subjects to complete, and provides a comprehensive assessment of a person’s physical health, mental health, and driving behaviors. With the replacement of the ruler-drop test with a technology-based test of reaction time, we believe that the assessment battery would serve as a valuable data collection tool for a longitudinal study of older drivers.

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