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Protocol for a conversation-based analysis study: PREVENT-ED investigates dialogue features that may help predict dementia onset in later life

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e026254
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2019


INTRODUCTION: Decreasing the incidence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a global public health priority. Early detection of AD is an important requisite for the implementation of prevention strategies towards this goal. While it is plausible that patients at the early stages of AD may exhibit subtle behavioural signs of neurodegeneration, neuropsychological testing seems unable to detect these signs in preclinical AD. Recent studies indicate that spontaneous speech data, which can be collected frequently and naturally, provide good predictors for AD detection in cohorts with a clinical diagnosis. The potential of models based on such data for detecting preclinical AD remains unknown.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: The PREVENT-Elicitation of Dialogues (PREVENT-ED) study builds on the PREVENT Dementia project to investigate whether early behavioural signs of AD may be detected through dialogue interaction. Participants recruited through PREVENT, aged 40-59 at baseline, will be included in this study. We will use speech processing and machine learning methods to assess how well speech and visuospatial markers agree with neuropsychological, biomarker, clinical, lifestyle and genetic data from the PREVENT cohort.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: There are no expected risks or burdens to participants. The procedures are not invasive and do not raise significant ethical issues. We only approach healthy consenting adults and all participants will be informed that this is an exploratory study and therefore has no diagnostic aim. Confidentiality aspects such as data encryption and storage comply with the General Data Protection Regulation and with the requirements from sponsoring bodies and ethical committees. This study has been granted ethical approval by the London-Surrey Research Ethics Committee (REC reference No: 18/LO/0860), and by Caldicott and Information Governance (reference No: CRD18048). PREVENT-ED results will be published in peer-reviewed journals.

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