Cross-cultural assessment of HIV-associated cognitive impairment using the Kaufman assessment battery for children: A systematic review


INTRODUCTION: Despite improved efficacy of, and access to, combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), HIV-associated cognitive impairments remain prevalent in both children and adults. Neuropsychological tests that detect such impairment can help clinicians formulate effective treatment plans. The Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (KABC), although developed and standardized in the United States, is used frequently in many different countries and cultural contexts to assess paediatric performance across various cognitive domains. This systematic review investigated the cross-cultural utility of the original KABC, and its 2nd edition (KABC-II), in detecting HIV-associated cognitive impairment in children and adolescents. METHODS: We entered relevant keywords and MeSH terms into the PubMed, PsycInfo, EBSCOHost, ProQuest, and Scopus databases, with search limits set from 19832017. Two independent reviewers evaluated the retrieved abstracts and manuscripts. Studies eligible for inclusion in the review were those that (a) used the KABC/KABC-II to assess cognitive function in children/adolescents aged 218 years, (b) featured a definition of cognitive impairment (e.g. >2 SD below the mean) or compared the performance of HIV-infected and uninfected control groups, and (c) used a sample excluded from population on which the instruments were normed. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: We identified nine studies (eight conducted in African countries, and one in the United Kingdom) to comprise the review’s sample. All studies detected cognitive impairment in HIV-infected children, including those who were cART-naive or who were cART treated and clinically stable. KABC/KABC-II subtests assessing simultaneous processing appeared most sensitive. Evaluation of the methodological quality of the selected studies by two independent reviews suggested that shortcomings included reporting and selection biases. CONCLUSIONS: This systematic review provides evidence for the cross-cultural utility of the KABC/KABC-II, particularly the simultaneous processing subtests, in detecting cognitive impairment in HIV-infected children (including those who are clinically stable). Although the current results suggest there is justification for using the KABC/KABC-II primarily in East Africa, further investigation is required to explore the instrument’s utility in other HIV-prevalent regions of the globe.


van Wyhe KS, Van De Water T, Boivin MJ, Cotton MF, Thomas KG




  • Population(s)
    • Children or Youth (less than 18 years old)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Treatment
  • Mental Health
    • Neurocognitive disorders


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