Applicability of the MoCA-S test in populations with little education in Colombia

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2013 Aug;28(8):813-20. doi: 10.1002/gps.3885. Epub 2012 Sep 20.


Objectives: The objectives of this study were to report on the use of the Spanish version of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA-S) as cognitive screening tool in a population aged 65 to 74 years in the Andes Mountains of Colombia, assessing the influence of education, and to examine its test-retest reliability.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of 150 subjects aged 65 to 74 years recruited from older community social centers in Manizales, Colombia. The Leganes Cognitive Test (LCT), a cognitive screening test for populations with low education, was used to exclude those who were likely to have dementia. The associations between the MoCA total score and cognitive domains and education were examined in the total sample and in those likely free of dementia. MoCA-S test-retest reliability was estimated by the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) between two measurements taken 7 days apart.

Results: Participants had low levels of formal education (mean years of schooling, 4.8). According to the LCT, the proportion of people screening positive for dementia was 16% (n = 24). The mean MoCA-S scores were 16.1/30 among illiterate subjects, 18.2/30 among those with incomplete primary school, and 20.3/30 among those with complete primary school (p < 0.001). Errors were frequent in the cube and clock drawing, attention-serial subtraction, verbal fluency, and abstraction. Test-retest reliability was high, ICC = 0.86, 95% CI (0.76-0.93).

Conclusion: The MoCA-S has high reliability in low-educated older Colombians, but scores were strongly dependent on years of education. Social and cultural factors must be considered when interpreting MoCA-S given the high error rates on items that depend on the ability to read and write and on culture.

Keywords: MoCA-S; bias; cognitive assessment; education; reliability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Colombia
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests / standards*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Socioeconomic Factors