Validation of the Trail Making Test B for the Cognitive Assessment of Patients with Cancer in Palliative Care


Introduction: Cognitive impairment is common in patients with cancer; however, studies examining the adaptation and validation of instruments for use in patients with cancer are scarce. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to validate the Trail Making Test B (TMT-B) for use in patients with cancer. Methods: Ninety-four outpatients receiving palliative treatment and 39 healthy companions were assessed. Patients were tested with the TMT-B and answered questions regarding the presence and intensity of pain, fatigue, quality of sleep, anxiety, and depression, at two time points with a 7-day inter-assessment interval. Results: The instrument discriminated between patients, who were slower, and healthy companions with respect to the time required to complete the test, but not in terms of the number of errors. The test was stable for the healthy companions across the two assessments in terms of time to complete the TMT-B and the number of errors; for patients, the instrument was stable only for the number of errors. Performance on the TMT-B did not correlate with pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, or sensation of rest. Conclusions: TMT-B cannot be considered fully validated. Further studies incorporating and comparing other instruments evaluating executive function and mental flexibility are needed.

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Santos, J. , Pimenta, C. , Kurita, G. , Braga, P. and Sjøgren, P. (2014) Validation of the Trail Making Test B for the Cognitive Assessment of Patients with Cancer in Palliative Care. Open Journal of Statistics, 4, 435-445. doi: 10.4236/ojs.2014.46042.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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