Background: When a health condition has been identified, the question of whether to continue driving depends not on a medical diagnosis, but on the functional consequences of the illness. The complex nature of physical and mental impairments and their relationship with safe driving make the availability of evidence based tools necessary for health professionals.
Aims: The review aims at identifying and summarizing scientific findings concerning the relationship between neuropsychological and clinical screening tests and fitness to drive among people with chronic conditions.
Methods: Studies were searched for driving ability evaluation by road test or simulator, clinical/neuropsychological examinations of participants with chronic diseases or permanent disablement impairing driving performance, primary outcomes as fatal/non-fatal traffic injuries and secondary outcomes as fitness to drive assessment.
Results: Twenty-seven studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Some studies included more than one clinical condition. The illness investigated were Alzheimer Disease (n=6), Parkinson Disease (n=8), Cardiovascular Accident (n=4), Traumatic Brain Injuries (n=3), Sleep Apnea Syndrome (n=2), Narcolepsy (n=1), Multiple Sclerosis (n=1) and Hepatic Encephalopathy (n=1), comorbidities (n=3). No studies match inclusion criteria about Myasthenia Gravis, Diabetes Mellitus, Renal Diseases, Hearing Disorders and Sight Diseases. No studies referred to primary outcomes. The selected studies provided opposite evidences. It would be reasonable to argue that some clinical and neuropsychological tests are effective in predicting fitness to drive even if contrasting results support that driving performance decreases as a function of clinical and neuropsychological decline in some chronic diseases.
Conclusion: Nevertheless we found no evidence that clinical and neuropsychological screening tests would lead to a reduction in motor vehicle crashes involving chronic disabled drivers. It seems necessary to develop tests with proven validity for identifying high-risk drivers so that physicians can provide guidance to their patients in chronic conditions, and also to medical advisory boards working with licensing offices.