• computer assessment;
  • aging;
  • cognition;
  • executive function

OBJECTIVES: To determine the cognitive and demographic factors that affect the performance of a predominantly African-American population in the use of a computerized version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D).

DESIGN: Cross-sectional.

SETTING: University Medical Center and Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

PARTICIPANTS: Forty-three healthy community-dwelling adults from a predominantly African-American Apostolic church; mean age ± standard deviation 57 ± 14 (range 29–83).

MEASUREMENTS: Cognitive measurements (Mini-Mental State Examination, digits span, word list learning, letter number sequencing, executive interview, and clock-drawing task), education level, computer experience, and age. The CES-D was administered on three occasions: a paper form CES-D once and a computerized version twice. Time to completion the computer CES-D (Time 1), differential in time to completion of both computer tests (delta-time) and scores of the CES-D with both forms of administration were recorded.

RESULTS: There was no difference between the scores from the paper and the computer CES-D or between the two computer forms. Computer experience predicted Time 1 (partial correlation R = 15%, P = .017) and delta-time (partial correlation R = 10%, P = .048). Age, education, and cognitive function did not affect performance.

CONCLUSION: Computerized assessment techniques are valid and unaffected by age, education level, or cognitive factors in healthy individuals.