The mini-cog: a cognitive 'vital signs' measure for dementia screening in multi-lingual elderly

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2000 Nov;15(11):1021-7. doi: 10.1002/1099-1166(200011)15:11<1021::aid-gps234>;2-6.


Objectives: The Mini-Cog, a composite of three-item recall and clock drawing, was developed as a brief test for discriminating demented from non-demented persons in a community sample of culturally, linguistically, and educationally heterogeneous older adults.

Subjects: All 129 who met criteria for probable dementia based on informant interviews and 120 with no history of cognitive decline were included; 124 were non-English speakers.

Methods: Sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic value of the Mini-Cog were compared with those of the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) and Cognitive Abilities Screening Instrument (CASI).

Results: The Mini-Cog had the highest sensitivity (99%) and correctly classified the greatest percentage (96%) of subjects. Moreover, its diagnostic value was not influenced by education or language, while that of the CASI was adversely influenced by low education, and both education and language compromised the diagnostic value of the MMSE. Administration time for the Mini-Cog was 3 minutes vs 7 minutes for the MMSE.

Conclusions: The Mini-Cog required minimal language interpretation and training to administer, and no test forms of scoring modifications were needed to compensate for the extensive linguistic and educational heterogeneity of the sample. Validation in clinical and population-based samples is warranted, as its brevity and ease of administration suggest that the Mini-Cog might be readily incorporated into general practice and senior care settings as a routine 'cognitive vital signs' measure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Ethnicity / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening*
  • Mental Recall*
  • Mental Status Schedule / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Multilingualism*
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • United States