Abstract

The reliable change index (RCI) expresses change relative to its associated error, and is useful in the identification of postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD). This paper examines four common RCIs that each account for error in different ways. Three rules incorporate a constant correction for practice effects and are contrasted with the standard RCI that had no correction for practice. These rules are applied to 160 patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery who completed neuropsychological assessments preoperatively and 1 week postoperatively using error and reliability data from a comparable healthy nonsurgical control group. The rules all identify POCD in a similar proportion of patients, but the use of the within-subject standard deviation (WSD), expressing the effects of random error, as an error estimate is a theoretically appropriate denominator when a constant error correction, removing the effects of systematic error, is deducted from the numerator in a RCI.