Does the key task measure prospective memory? Cautionary findings from parallel studies in HIV disease and older adults
Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology
School of Medical and Health Sciences
OBJECTIVE: Despite its brevity and face validity, little is known about the construct validity of the naturalistic "Key Task" of prospective memory (PM), in which an examinee is instructed to remind the examiner at a designated time to retrieve keys (or another belonging) placed out of sight. METHOD: Study 1 included 162 HIV+ and 52 HIV- comparison participants who completed the Key Task alongside well-validated measures of PM and a comprehensive neuropsychological battery that included everyday functioning measures. Study 2 used broadly parallel methods in 168 older community-dwelling Australians. RESULTS: Overall, the Key Task was not reliably associated with neurocognitive functioning (including clinical and experimental measures of PM), PM symptoms, or everyday functioning in either sample. CONCLUSIONS: The Key Task did not demonstrate compelling evidence of construct validity among persons living with HIV disease or older adults, which raises doubts regarding its clinical usefulness as a measure of PM.