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Web-based cognitive testing in psychiatric research: validation and usability study

Lynham, Amy Joanne ORCID:, Jones, Ian R. ORCID: and Walters, James T. R. ORCID: 2022. Web-based cognitive testing in psychiatric research: validation and usability study. Journal of Medical Internet Research 24 (2) , e28233. 10.2196/28233

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Background: Cognitive impairments are features of many psychiatric disorders and affect functioning. A barrier to cognitive research on psychiatric disorders is the lack of large cross-disorder data sets. However, the collection of cognitive data can be logistically challenging and expensive. Web-based collection may be an alternative; however, little is known about who does and does not complete web-based cognitive assessments for psychiatric research. Objective: The aims of this study are to develop a web-based cognitive battery for use in psychiatric research, validate the battery against the Measurement and Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia (MATRICS) Consensus Cognitive Battery, and compare the characteristics of the participants who chose to take part with those of the individuals who did not participate. Methods: Tasks were developed by The Many Brains Project and selected to measure the domains specified by the MATRICS initiative. We undertook a cross-validation study of 65 participants with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, or no history of psychiatric disorders to compare the web-based tasks with the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery. Following validation, we invited participants from 2 large ongoing genetic studies, which recruited participants with psychiatric disorders to complete the battery and evaluated the demographic and clinical characteristics of those who took part. Results: Correlations between web-based and MATRICS tasks ranged between 0.26 and 0.73. Of the 961 participants, 887 (92.3%) completed at least one web-based task, and 644 (67%) completed all tasks, indicating adequate completion rates. Predictors of web-based participation included being female (odds ratio [OR] 1.3, 95% CI 1.07-1.58), ethnicity other than White European (OR 0.66, 95% CI 0.46-0.96), higher levels of education (OR 1.19, 95% CI 1.11-1.29), diagnosis of an eating disorder (OR 2.17, 95% CI 1.17-4) or depression and anxiety (OR 5.12, 95% CI 3.38-7.83), and absence of a diagnosis of schizophrenia (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.35-0.94). Lower performance on the battery was associated with poorer functioning (B=−1.76, SE 0.26; P<.001). Conclusions: Our findings offer valuable insights into the advantages and disadvantages of testing cognitive function remotely for mental health research.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Additional Information: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (
Publisher: JMIR Publications
ISSN: 1438-8871
Funders: MRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 March 2022
Date of Acceptance: 22 November 2021
Last Modified: 10 May 2023 20:02

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