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Keywords:

  • cancer;
  • oncology;
  • cognitive function;
  • measurement;
  • instrument

Abstract

Objective: Cognitive assessment in individuals with cancer requires both measured performance on neuropsychological tests and self-report of effectiveness in functioning. Few instruments are available to assess the perceived impact of cognitive alterations on daily functioning in individuals treated for cancer. In this study, we investigated the psychometric properties of a theoretically based instrument, and the Attentional Function Index (AFI), designed to measure perceived effectiveness in common activities requiring attention and working memory, particularly the ability to formulate plans, carry out tasks, and function effectively in daily life.

Methods: Women (N=172), ages 27–86 years, completed the questionnaire before primary treatment for early stage breast cancer. Construct validity was established using exploratory principal component factor analysis with varimax rotation.

Results: A 13-item instrument emerged with 3 subscales, namely effective action, attentional lapses, and interpersonal effectiveness, which explained 74.69% of total variance. The internal consistency coefficients (Cronbach's α) were 0.92 for the total instrument, and ranged from 0.80 to 0.92 for the 3 subscales. Further examination of validity indicated that the scores on the AFI (1) showed expected correlations with established measures of ability to concentrate, cognitive failures, states of confusion, and mental fatigue, and (2) could distinguish differences in perceived cognitive functioning between younger and older age groups. AFI scores were not significantly associated with years of education or presence of comorbid conditions.

Conclusion: The brief AFI has demonstrated usefulness for assessment of perceived cognitive functioning in populations with life-threatening and chronic illness, such as breast cancer. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.