Evaluating the accuracy of self-report for the diagnosis of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND): defining “symptomatic” versus “asymptomatic” HAND

The CNS HIV Anti-Retroviral Therapy Effects Research (CHARTER) Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The criteria for differentiating symptomatic from asymptomatic HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder require evaluation of (1) cognitive impairment, (2) daily functioning declines, and (3) whether the functional declines are attributable to cognitive versus physical problems. Many providers rely only on self-report to evaluate these latter criteria. However, the accuracy of patient-provided information may be limited. This study evaluated the validity of self-assessment for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) diagnoses by comparing objective findings with self-report of criteria 2 and 3 above. Self-reports were used to stratify 277 cognitively impaired HIV+ individuals into functionally dependent (n = 159) and independent (n = 118) groups, followed by group comparisons of objective functional problems. The dependent group was then divided into those who self-attributed their functional dependence to only cognitive (n = 80) versus only physical (n = 79) causes, for further comparisons on objective findings. The functionally dependent group was significantly worse than the independent group on all objective disability characteristics except severity of cognitive impairment, while those who attributed their dependence to physical (versus cognitive) factors were similar on all objective physical, cognitive, and functioning variables. Of note, 28 % of physical attributors showed no physical abnormalities on neuromedical examinations. Results suggest that patient report is consistently associated with objective measures of functional loss; in contrast, patient identification of physical versus cognitive causes is poorly associated with objective criteria. These findings caution against relying solely on patient self-report to determine whether functional disability in cognitively impaired HIV+ individuals can be attributed to strictly physical causes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-78
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of NeuroVirology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • AIDS
  • Activities of daily living
  • Cognitive disorders
  • Etiology
  • Self-assessment


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