Lillian Mwanri, Carol Snellgrove, Ron Somers
Research in Psychology and Behavioral Sciences. 2013, 1(4), 54-60DOI:
Abstract: Background: It is well acknowledged that older drivers with dementia have higher crash rates compared to controls. Doctors in South Australia are required to provide certification of medical fitness to drive for licence renewal of individuals aged 70+ years. Currently, there is no available instrument with adequate predictive validity similar to on-road driving test for older drivers. A new cognitive screening test known as ‘the Snellgrove Maze Task’ (SMT) was developed to assess driving capability in older drivers in South Australia. The aim of the current study was to assess General Practitioners’ perceptions of the use of Snellgrove Maze Test in practice. Methods: Ninety General practitioners (GPs) from South Australia were invited to participate in a trial SMT on older drivers for driving licence renewal. Fifty-two (57.7%) GPs responded and trialled 119 patients. Ethics approval for the study was granted by the Department of Health Human Research Ethics Committee. Informed consent was obtained from each individual patient. Results: Almost all (96%) respondents strongly and believed that they would use SMT. Both rural and metropolitan GPs were more likely to strongly agree that the tool was useful, and that it was acceptable by older driver patients. This agreement was statistically significant among GPs from rural areas (p=0.0000). Also GPs from across metropolitan and rural areas were more likely to strongly agree that they would use the tool. This assertion was statistically significant among GPs from both rural (p= 0.004) and metropolitan (p = 0.046) areas of South Australia. The need for GPs’ training and the promotion of SMT were identified as issues that needed to be addressed for effective use of SMT. Conclusion: The findings of the study indicated a high acceptability rate of SMTby GPs. Its introduction would offer doctors a means to objectively and consistently assess cognitive functions affecting the driving competency of older drivers. However, because SMT discriminates for cognitive domains specific for safe driving only, it would best be introduced as an adjunctive screening measure in the licence renewal process of older drivers.