How the STAC Tool List was developed

A Screening Tools Advisory Committee (STAC) was formed and comprised of 40 clinicians (nursing, medical and allied health professionals and mangers) from various fields related to older people’s health, plus members from ACI and the Ministry of Health. From this STAC membership, a smaller group of 21 clinicians were chosen to form a Reference Group. Members were chosen based on their specialty, role or position and geographical location. This created a diverse group that represented a cross section of the clinical population engaged in delivering and informing care for the older person. The STAC Reference Group (STAC RG) undertook the bulk of the work for developing the Tools List.

STAC members identified an initial 48 screening and assessment tools that they knew of or used in their clinical practice. Tools were selected from the clinical expertise of the STAC members and a general google search – the tools needed to be known or used by the STAC members, as well as have evidence and links to information widely available. During the project, the Tools List was continually reviewed and edited by STAC members and progressed through a second and third version. During this time, a Drug and Alcohol section was added, information regarding tool availability on electronic health record (eMR) or as a statewide form was added if appropriate and some tools were discarded as they were thought to be outside the scope of the project. A further 17 tools were sourced from the Dementia Outcomes Measurement Suite (DOMS) website[i], a collection of validated tools for the assessment of various aspects of dementia.

Inclusion criteria Exclusion criteria
Name of tool and year published Used for research purposes only
Short synopsis about tool including licensing requirements (if any)  
Information about clinical setting tool can be used  
Link to official website  
Link to training requirements  
Link to additional useful resources  
Any other information that may be useful e.g. if available in the eMR 

As the Tools List took shape, STAC members reorganised the list to be easier for clinicians to identify screening and assessment tools available. To do this the Tools List was accompanied by columns that were to be populated for each tool. The columns were derived from previously agreed inclusion and exclusion criteria as set by the STAC members and outlined below.

Several iterations of the column headings took place until a final version of the Tools List resulted in the following final columns.

  1. Name of tool
  2. Information about the tool
  3. Author and year published
  4. Time to administer tool
  5. Self-reported or health care professional administered
  6. Availability in NSW Health: eMR or statewide form
  7. Link to official website
  8. Licensing, fees or copyright details
  9. Training materials
  10. Other additional useful information

Additionally, the Tools List was grouped into meaningful sections according to the screening required.

  • Cognition tools (23)
  • Mood and behaviour tools (18)
  • Dementia tools (5)
  • Drug and alcohol (2)
  • Multicultural tools (2)
  • Aboriginal tools (1)
  • Delirium tools (4)

STAC RG members were allocated sections to review dependant on their speciality or familiarity with the tool, or requests made.

To facilitate review the Tools List was hosted on SharePoint, to which all STAC members were registered, however only STAC RG members were given permission to edit and populate their allocated sections and tools under each column heading. All other STAC members were given permission to view the Tools List only, although they were given an opportunity to comment on the process of tool population or suggest the inclusion of additional tools. The decision to limit access to the Tools List was made to minimise unintentional corruption of the template.

The fourth and final version of the Tools List contains information about 55 screening and assessment tools used to inform cognitive and mental health needs in older people, within the NSW Health system. Of those 32 (58%) were able to be cross referenced with corresponding information on the DOMS website to check for content accuracy and provide an appropriate evidence base. The remaining 23 tools (42%) are not presented with as compelling an evidence base, however readings from peer reviewed journals or textbooks are provided, some of which describe the validity and reliability of the tool being examined.

[i] The DOMS project was originally commissioned under the Australian Government’s National Dementia Initiative and was designed to develop a suite of instruments that would be used throughout Australia to standardise assessment and dementia outcome measures. Accompanying each tool is detailed information on the quality metrics for that tool, based on an extensive overview of the scientific literature. Permission to use DOMS tools for the STAC project was sought and gained.

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