Verbal fluency in a national sample: Telephone administration methods

Janice C. Marceaux, Michelle A. Prosje, Leslie A. McClure, Bhumika Kana, Michael Crowe, Brett Kissela, Jennifer Manly, George Howard, Joyce W. Tam, Frederick W. Unverzagt, Virginia G. Wadley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives: Describe novel methods for ascertaining verbal fluency in a large national sample of adults, examine demographic factors influencing performance, and compare scores to studies using in-person assessment. Methods/design: Participants were from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study, a national, population-based, longitudinal study of stroke in adults aged 45 years and older. Letter and semantic fluency were gathered, using Letter “F” and Animal Naming, via a telephone-based assessment with computer-assisted scoring of digital recordings. Results: Initial letter and semantic fluency scores were obtained on 18 505 and 18 072 participants, respectively. For both fluency tests, scores were normally distributed. Younger age and more years of education were associated with better performances (p < 0.0001). The mean and standard deviation for matched subgroups, based on age, gender, and education, were quite comparable with scores reported out of samples using an in-person administration format. Telephone-based assessment also allowed for a level of quality control not available via in-person measurement. Conclusions: Telephone-based assessment of verbal fluency and computer-assisted scoring programs designed for this study facilitated large-scale data acquisition, storage, and scoring of protocols. The resulting scores have similar characteristics to those obtained by traditional methods. These findings extend validation of cognitive assessment methods, using survey research staff and computer-assisted technology for test administration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)578-587
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • cognitive assessment
  • computer-assisted scoring
  • neuropsychological test
  • telephone-based assessment
  • validation
  • verbal fluency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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