Objective: To propose a set of internationally harmonized procedures and methods for assessing neurocognitive functions, smell, taste, mental, and psychosocial health, and other factors in adults formally diagnosed with COVID-19 (confirmed as SARS-CoV-2 + WHO definition).
Methods: We formed an international and cross-disciplinary NeuroCOVID Neuropsychology Taskforce in April 2020. Seven criteria were used to guide the selection of the recommendations’ methods and procedures: (i) Relevance to all COVID-19 illness stages and longitudinal study design; (ii) Standard, cross-culturally valid or widely available instruments; (iii) Coverage of both direct and indirect causes of COVID-19-associated neurological and psychiatric symptoms; (iv) Control of factors specifically pertinent to COVID-19 that may affect neuropsychological performance; (v) Flexibility of administration (telehealth, computerized, remote/online, face to face); (vi) Harmonization for facilitating international research; (vii) Ease of translation to clinical practice.
Results: The three proposed levels of harmonization include a screening strategy with telehealth option, a medium-size computerized assessment with an online/remote option, and a comprehensive evaluation with flexible administration. The context in which each harmonization level might be used is described. Issues of assessment timelines, guidance for home/remote assessment to support data fidelity and telehealth considerations, cross-cultural adequacy, norms, and impairment definitions are also described.
Conclusions: The proposed recommendations provide rationale and methodological guidance for neuropsychological research studies and clinical assessment in adults with COVID-19. We expect that the use of the recommendations will facilitate data harmonization and global research. Research implementing the recommendations will be crucial to determine their acceptability, usability, and validity.
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Cysique, L., Łojek, E., Ching-Kong Cheung, T., Cullen, B., Egbert, A., Evans, J., Garolera, M., Gawron, N., Gouse, H., Hansen, K., Holas, P., Hyniewska, S., Malinowska, E., Marcopulos, B., Merkley, T., Muñoz-Moreno, J., Ramsden, C., Salas, C., Sikkes, S., Silva, A., Zouhar, I. & The NeuroCOVID International Neuropsychology Taskforce 2021, 'Assessment of neurocognitive functions, olfaction, taste, mental, and psycho-social health in COVID-19 in adults: recommendations for harmonization of research and implications for clinical practice', Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1355617721000862