Do long tests yield a more accurate diagnosis of dementia than short tests? A comparison of 5 neuropsychological tests

Arch Neurol. 1996 Oct;53(10):1033-9. doi: 10.1001/archneur.1996.00550100119021.


Objective: To provide comparative evidence for a valid and practical measure of mental-status functioning that could be used in dementia clinics.

Design: Five mental-status neuropsychological tools for dementia screening were administered to patients in a memory disorder clinic. These included the Mini-Mental State Examination, the Dementia Rating Scale, the 6-item derivative of the Orientation-Memory-Concentration Test, a short Mental Status Questionnaire, and a composite tool we labeled the Ottawa Mental Status Examination, which assessed orientation, memory, attention, language, and visual-constructive functioning. The tools were compared using various criteria, including the statistical factors of sensitivity and reliability; effects of gender, native language, and language of testing; the utility of these tests for the differential diagnosis of Alzheimer-type and vascular dementia; and sensitivity to cognitive decline in the entire sample and among patients with severe dementia.

Results: All of the tests were highly intercorrelated, suggesting that they are interchangeable.

Conclusion: The comparisons along the various criteria indicate that if the objective is to have a general index of dementia of the Alzheimer type, short tests are at least as good and sometimes better than the longer tests.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / psychology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Dementia / diagnosis*
  • Dementia / etiology
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Education
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Mental Status Schedule*
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Time Factors