What are the pros and cons of using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) for cognitive impairment screening?

Updated: Dec 02, 2020
  • Author: Claudia L Reardon, MD; more...
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Answer

The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) is the most commonly used cognitive screen and has reasonable sensitivity and specificity for dementia (77% and 90%, respectively, in high-prevalence specialist settings, and 81% and 87%, respectively, in low-prevalence settings). [7] One meta-analysis concluded that for screening, if the duration of test is not a major consideration, then the MMSE is the best choice for primary care clinicians who want both a rule-in and rule-out tool. [8] However, some primary care physicians find it impractical because of its length of administration. [9] Especially in settings in which a higher than community baseline prevalence of dementia exists, the 6 Item Screen and Mini-Cog are quicker and as accurate as the MMSE. [8]


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