The Short Parallel Assessments of Neuropsychological Status (or 'SPANS') is a short battery of cognitive tasks that produce seven reliable index scores including Orientation, Attention/Concentration, Language, Memory/Learning, Visuo-Motor Performance, Efficiency and Cognitive Flexibility. The assessment includes two alternate versions, SPANS A and SPANS B, for reliable retest while minimising practice effects.
Dr Gerald Burgess, author of the SPANS, describes the assessments:
- Possesses alternate versions (A & B) developed from precise specifications for practical and trustworthy retest
- Developed directly from clinical experience and review of the literature
- Ability to adapt testing to a briefer or hypothesis-driven assessment without sacrificing norm-referenced interpretation
- Full SPANS administration takes 35 minutes, or highly sensitive and specific ‘brief’ version takes 15 minutes.
- Interpretative guidelines provided for patients with conditions known to affect test performance, such as visual, motor and/or language disturbance, or those only able to respond/indicate ‘yes’ or ‘no’
- Screens for neurological syndromes including aphasia, agnosia, neglect, and amnesia
- Few manipulatives means the test is conducive to bedside or office-based assessment
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Subtest selection was derived from clinical experience and common referral questions such as to aid rehabilitation/management planning and assessing mental capacity, and extensive interpretation guidelines and special considerations are provided in the test manual. Standardised interpretation (T scores and percentiles) for each index score is available for four age groups, 18-32, 33-50, 51-64, and 65-74. The SPANS demonstrates very good convergent and divergent validity, sensitivity and specificity, and discrimination between left and right hemisphere impairment.
How does the SPANS differ to the lead competing product?
- The SPANS has more, briefer subtests overall, and more subtests per index score – making more internally reliable index scores and a more engaging test for patients.
- The SPANS has better alternate-version test-retest reliability across all index scores.
- The SPANS takes about 5 to 10 minutes longer to administer and score, but provides a wider variety of observations, including screening for neurological syndromes that the main competition does not. The SPANS is sensitive and specific to cognitive impairments.