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Medicalising normality? Using a simulated dataset to assess the performance of different diagnostic criteria of HIV-associated cognitive impairment

Underwood, Jonathan, De Francesco, Davide, Leech, Robert, Sabin, Caroline A. and Winston, Alan 2018. Medicalising normality? Using a simulated dataset to assess the performance of different diagnostic criteria of HIV-associated cognitive impairment. PLoS ONE 13 (4) , e0194760. 10.1371/journal.pone.0194760

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Abstract

Objective The reported prevalence of cognitive impairment remains similar to that reported in the pre-antiretroviral therapy era. This may be partially artefactual due to the methods used to diagnose impairment. In this study, we evaluated the diagnostic performance of the HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (Frascati criteria) and global deficit score (GDS) methods in comparison to a new, multivariate method of diagnosis. Methods Using a simulated ‘normative’ dataset informed by real-world cognitive data from the observational Pharmacokinetic and Clinical Observations in PeoPle Over fiftY (POPPY) cohort study, we evaluated the apparent prevalence of cognitive impairment using the Frascati and GDS definitions, as well as a novel multivariate method based on the Mahalanobis distance. We then quantified the diagnostic properties (including positive and negative predictive values and accuracy) of each method, using bootstrapping with 10,000 replicates, with a separate ‘test’ dataset to which a pre-defined proportion of ‘impaired’ individuals had been added. Results The simulated normative dataset demonstrated that up to ~26% of a normative control population would be diagnosed with cognitive impairment with the Frascati criteria and ~20% with the GDS. In contrast, the multivariate Mahalanobis distance method identified impairment in ~5%. Using the test dataset, diagnostic accuracy [95% confidence intervals] and positive predictive value (PPV) was best for the multivariate method vs. Frascati and GDS (accuracy: 92.8% [90.3–95.2%] vs. 76.1% [72.1–80.0%] and 80.6% [76.6–84.5%] respectively; PPV: 61.2% [48.3–72.2%] vs. 29.4% [22.2–36.8%] and 33.9% [25.6–42.3%] respectively). Increasing the a priori false positive rate for the multivariate Mahalanobis distance method from 5% to 15% resulted in an increase in sensitivity from 77.4% (64.5–89.4%) to 92.2% (83.3–100%) at a cost of specificity from 94.5% (92.8–95.2%) to 85.0% (81.2–88.5%). Conclusion Our simulations suggest that the commonly used diagnostic criteria of HIV-associated cognitive impairment label a significant proportion of a normative reference population as cognitively impaired, which will likely lead to a substantial over-estimate of the true proportion in a study population, due to their lower than expected specificity. These findings have important implications for clinical research regarding cognitive health in people living with HIV. More accurate methods of diagnosis should be implemented, with multivariate techniques offering a promising solution.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: On behalf of the Pharmacokinetic and Clinical Observations in PeoPle Over fiftY (POPPY) study
Publisher: Public Library of Science
ISSN: 1932-6203
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 15 August 2019
Date of Acceptance: 9 March 2018
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2019 13:32
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/124855

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