COMPASS project

Oxford COMPASS (COMPetency ASSessment) is a brief cognitive screening tool, designed to provide a cognitive profile with regards to a patient’s broad abilities in comprehension, memory and executive functioning. These cognitive constructs align with the core criteria for assessing mental capacity. Our long term aim is to investigate whether such a profile can help guide and inform Mental Capacity Assessments.

Assessment of mental capacity is a critical aspect of clinical practice, particularly for neurological patients. It provides the crucial judgement on patients’ ability to make informed decisions on a wide range of situations, from choosing treatment and discharge destination, to making financial decisions (e.g. selling a house), creating a power of attorney or making a will. Careful, well-informed capacity assessments are vital for ensuring the protection of peoples’ rights. In order to establish that a person lacks capacity, the law states that the person concerned must be unable to (i) understand information relevant to the decision, (ii) retain that information, (iii) use or weigh that information as part of the process of making the decision, or (iv) communicate the decision made.

In spite of clear legal guidance, mental capacity assessments are typically conducted in a short non-standardized interview and are highly variable in practice.  They often fail to align with legal standards of the Mental Capacity Act, are solely based on a subjective, qualitative interview and are poorly documented.

We are therefore developing a standardised mental capacity assessment aligned neuropsychological screen, in line with legal standards, to improve the approach and documenting of this decision-making process, which has long-lasting and highly impactful consequences to patients’ rights to self-determination.

Currently, we have designed and developed a prototype tool with support from Medical Research Council Confidence in Concept funding (Demeyere, Duta, Jespersen).



Mihaela Duta

Sam Webb

Francesca Payne

Anders Jespersen

Romi Basting

Grace Chiu

Miranda Wheeler



See latest lay paper summary on the Multiple Errands task in COMPASS here

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