Alberta Researcher Develops Competence Screen for Drivers with Dementia

Michelle Durkin, BSc

How to determine when people suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other dementias should stop operating a motor vehicle is a complex and controversial issue. The decision can affect the patient (by impairing independence and mobility), his or her family, and the safety of the general public. As a greater percentage of the population ages, the number of functionally impaired drivers only increases, further complicating the issue.

The Canadian Medical Association's Guide for Physicians in Determining Fitness to Drive (5th edition) states that physicians should monitor the driving competence of a patient with dementia. Until now this has been difficult because an appropriate and accurate evaluation tool has not been available. Physicians relied solely on their own judgement. Now, however, the research of Dr. Allen Dobbs of the University of Alberta may provide this needed, effective evaluation tool with the development of a computer-based test called the Competence Screen.

In an interview, Dr.