Do Mini-Mental State Examination and Montreal Cognitive Assessment predict high-cost health care users? A competing risks analysis in The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2022 Jun 7;37(7):10.1002/gps.5766. doi: 10.1002/gps.5766. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: Policymakers want to better identify in advance the 10% of people who account for approximately 75% of health care costs. We evaluated how well Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) predicted high costs in Ireland.

Methods/design: We used five waves from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, a biennial population-representative survey of people aged 50+ (2010-2018). We used competing risks analysis where our outcome of interest was "high costs" (top 10% at any wave) and the competing outcome was dying or loss to follow-up without first having the high-cost outcome. Our binary predictors of interest were a 'low score' (bottom 10% in the sample) in MMSE (≤25 pts) and MoCA (≤19 pts) at baseline, and we calculated sub-hazard ratios after controlling for sociodemographic, clinical and functional factors.

Results: Of 5856 participants, 1427 (24%) had the 'high cost' outcome; 1463 (25%) had a competing outcome; and 2966 (51%) completed eight years of follow-up without either outcome. In multivariable regressions a low MoCA score was associated with high costs (SHR: 1.38 (95% CI: 1.2-1.6) but a low MMSE score was not. Low MoCA score at baseline had a higher true positive rate (40%) than did low MMSE score (35%). The scores had similar association with exit from the study.

Conclusions: MoCA had superior predictive accuracy for high costs than MMSE but the two scores identify somewhat different types of high-cost user. Combining the approaches may improve efforts to identify in advance high-cost users.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; cognition; dementia; health care costs; utilisation.