Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare a modified version of the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) with the standard MMSE and the Mini-Cog in patients ≥65 years old, stratified by education and literacy level.
Method: This cross-sectional exploratory study enrolled a convenience sample of 219 patients with a complaint of memory loss or a diagnosis of dementia from a geriatric outpatient clinic, nursing home, senior center, and university hospital. The MMSE was administered, and in addition to spelling and serial 7s backward, patients were asked to recite the days of the week backward with the intent to reduce educational bias. Scores on the modified MMSE were compared with scores of the MMSE and the Mini-Cog.
Results: Of the 219 patients, 157 were identified with cognitive impairment by the Mini-Cog. Using a cutoff of ≤23, the MMSE identified 118 patients and the modified MMSE identified 91 patients with cognitive impairment, and with a cutoff of ≤27 the MMSE identified 168 and the modified MMSE 149 patients. All cognitively intact subjects correctly recited the days of the week backward. Specificity of the modified MMSE was higher than the MMSE for most groups. The highest sensitivity and specificity (94% and 88%, respectively) as well as positive and negative predictive values (96% and 81%, respectively) were in patients with low levels of education for the modified MMSE using a cut off of ≤27.
Conclusion: Using the days of the week in the MMSE among illiterate and semiliterate participants and with education less than high school, and using a cutoff of 27 of 30, correlates better with Mini-Cog for dementia screening, with fewer false positives.
Keywords: Dementia; Elderly; Geriatrics; Memory; Nursing Homes; Screening.