Objectives: This study published in two companion papers assesses properties of the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) with the purpose of improving the efficiencies of the methods of screening for cognitive impairment and dementia.
Study design and setting: An item analysis by conventional and mixed Rasch models was used to explore empirically derived cognitive dimensions of the MMSE, to assess item bias, and to construct diagnostic cut-points. The scores of 1,189 elderly residents were analyzed.
Results: Two dimensions of cognitive function, which are statistically and conceptually different from those obtained in previous studies, were derived. The corresponding sum scales were (1) age-correlated MMSE scale (A-MMSE scale: orientation to time, attention/calculation, naming, repetition, and three-stage command) and (2) non-age-correlated MMSE scale (B-MMSE scale: orientation to place, registration, recall, reading, and copying). The "writing" item was not included due to differential effects of age and sex. The analysis also showed that the study sample consisted of two cognitively different groups of elderly.
Conclusions: The findings indicate that a two-scale solution is a stable and statistically supported framework for interpreting data obtained by means of the MMSE. Supplementary analyses are presented in the companion paper to explore the performance of this item response theory calibration as a screening test for dementia.