Gregory, S., Linz, N., König, A., Langel, K., Pullen, H., Luz, S., Harrison, J., & Ritchie, C. W. (2022). Remote data collection speech analysis and prediction of the identification of Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease dementia: the Speech on the Phone Assessment (SPeAk) prospective observational study protocol. BMJ Open, 12(3), e052250.
Identifying cost-effective, non-invasive biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a clinical and research priority. Speech data are easy to collect, and studies suggest it can identify those with AD. We do not know if speech features can predict AD biomarkers in a preclinical population.
Methods and analysis
The Speech on the Phone Assessment (SPeAk) study is a prospective observational study. SPeAk recruits participants aged 50 years and over who have previously completed studies with AD biomarker collection. Participants complete a baseline telephone assessment, including spontaneous speech and cognitive tests. A 3-month visit will repeat the cognitive tests with a conversational artificial intelligence bot. Participants complete acceptability questionnaires after each visit. Participants are randomised to receive their cognitive test results either after each visit or only after they have completed the study. We will combine SPeAK data with AD biomarker data collected in a previous study and analyse for correlations between extracted speech features and AD biomarkers. The outcome of this analysis will inform the development of an algorithm for prediction of AD risk based on speech features.
Ethics and dissemination
This study has been approved by the Edinburgh Medical School Research Ethics Committee (REC reference 20-EMREC-007). All participants will provide informed consent before completing any study-related procedures, participants must have capacity to consent to participate in this study. Participants may find the tests, or receiving their scores, causes anxiety or stress. Previous exposure to similar tests may make this more familiar and reduce this anxiety. The study information will include signposting in case of distress. Study results will be disseminated to study participants, presented at conferences and published in a peer reviewed journal. No study participants will be identifiable in the study results.