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  • Writer's pictureLeanna Coy, FNP-C

Driving With Cognitive Impairment: Men's Journal Rewrites News Release

Men's Journal: A Surprising Number of Adults With Cognitive Impairment Still Drive, Study Finds

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Review Summary

This news story posted on Men's Journal reported on a study published by the University of Michigan regarding adults with cognitive impairment who continue to drive. The news story was nearly verbatim re-organizing paragraphs pulled directly from the news release. The news story needed additional reporting or commentary.

Why This Matters

The United States has a large population of aging drivers, many of whom are cognitively impaired. Cognitive impairment can negatively affect a driver's safety and increase the risk of accidents. The University of Michigan study was a small cohort of individuals over the age of 64 and their caregivers. Cognitive screening of study participants was measured using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) test. With this test, a score below 26 is considered abnormal. In the study, participants had an average score of 17, with 61% of the study participants still driving. This study highlights the need for older adults and caregivers to be aware of cognitive decline with the potential loss of the ability to drive safely. It touches on the challenges caregivers have in broaching the problematic discussion of when to stop driving while acknowledging how losing driving privileges can negatively affect someone's life with increased isolation and loss of independence.

Criteria for Review

Is the true cost of a treatment or intervention provided?

With this type of study, the cost really is the risk to other drivers and pedestrians, as well as the loss of independence by the older adult with cognitive decline. As this article pulls directly from the news release, it does not dive into financial and social impacts for the reader.

Does the story understand the quality of the evidence being presented?

No. The story headline "A Surprising Numbers of Adults With Cognitive Impairment Still Drive" gives the reader a false impression of large numbers of cognitively impaired people on the road. However, since it does not directly reference the original study, the news article fails to recognize the small cohort that is not statistically significant and that the study was confined to a small area of the country. There is no mention of the need for further studies to validate this information.

Is there medicalizing of normal human experiences to sell things, also known as disease-mongering?

By generalizing a small study that itself states needs to be re-evaluated with larger cohorts, they committed disease-mongering.

Does the article identify a conflict of interest along with the use of objective, independent resources that don't have a conflict of interest?

The story provides hyperlinks to studies referenced in the original news release without directly pulling any new information and does not look for additional research that supports the study.

Comparison of the new treatment or intervention with existing options

This story should provide recommendations from other organizations for assessing the risks. It does not.

Does the article discuss the availability of treatments, tests, or interventions being touted?

The story provides hyperlinks to an article from Medscape on the Advanced Driving Directive but does not mention how caregivers can begin the conversation regarding screening for cognitive impairment.

Is a product or intervention actually "new," or is it just being reworked or repackaged?

This is a new study.

Is the story just a news release without any additional reporting?

Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan did the news release of the study. The news article from Men's Journal reformats several paragraphs from the news release. The only additional reporting was a small paragraph at the end referencing a map of Alzheimer's prevalence around the country.

Men's Journal: "Just over 35% of caregivers had concerns about their care recipient's ability to drive safely, even though many study participants limited their total amount of driving and avoided driving at night or in the rain."

News release: "Though many of the study's participants limited their overall driving time, avoiding nighttime trips and rainy days altogether, scientists found that over 35 percent of caregivers still had misgivings about their care recipient operating a motor vehicle."

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