Background: The aim of this study was to compare the screening value of the Mini-Cog, Clock Drawing Test (CDT), Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the algorithm MMSE and/or CDT to separate elderly people with dementia from healthy depending on test time, type and severity of dementia, and demographic variables in a German Memory Clinic.
Methods: Data from a heterogeneous patient sample and healthy participants (n = 502) were retrospectively analyzed. Of the 438 patients with dementia, 49.1% of the dementia diagnoses were Alzheimer's dementia and 50.9% were non-Alzheimer's dementia. Sixty-four participants were classified as cognitively unimpaired. The CDT and an extraction of the 3-item recall of the MMSE were used to constitute the Mini-Cog algorithm.
Results: Overall, the Mini-Cog showed significantly higher discriminatory power (86.8%) than the MMSE (72.6% at a cut-off ≤ 24 and 79.2% at ≤ 25, respectively) and CDT (78.1%) (each p < 0.01) and did not perform worse than the algorithm MMSE and/or CDT (each p > 0.05). The specificity of the Mini-Cog (100.0%) was similar to that of the MMSE (100.0% for both cut-offs) and CDT (96.9%) (p = 0.154). For all age and educational groups the Mini-Cog outmatched the CDT and MMSE, and was less affected by education than MMSE and less susceptible for the dementia stage than the CDT.
Conclusion: The Mini-Cog proved to have superior discriminatory power than either CDT or MMSE and is demonstrated to be a valid "short" screening instrument taking 3 to 4 minutes to administer in the geriatric setting.