Researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), University of Oviedo, and the Biomedical Research Networking Centre in Mental Health (CIBERSAM) in Spain have developed a new test that could assess schizophrenia patients within 20 minutes.

The test is designed to examine cognitive abilities such as mental agility, short-term memory capacity and organisational capacities using a battery of four assessments selected by the researchers.

Led by Sílvia Zaragoza Domingo of UAB, the research team identified the assessments in an Epidemiological Study of Cognitive Impairment in Schizophrenia (EPICOG-SCH), which was performed by 257 professionals with 700 Spanish patients over six months.

The tests in the battery of assessments are short, easy to administer and are available to doctors and psychologists in several languages.

The tests allow the assessment and explanation of disease symptoms, while they are said to enable treatment of each case in the best possible manner.

“This test allows each patient to better adapt to his life.”

Domingo said: “In schizophrenia, it is desirable for the patient to be as independent and function as best possible, although that does not always happen.

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“This test allows each patient to better adapt to his life. For example, if a patient is slower mentally, but short-term memory is not affected, he or she will have more chances of leading an independent life than someone whose memory is also affected.”

The initial and follow-up examinations to monitor the effect of changes in medication can be performed at the patient’s regular mental health or private centres.

The Neuropsychological Research Organisation (Psyncro), which was founded by Domingo, will develop and commercialise the new test.