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Arch Fam Med. 2000 Jun;9(6):527-32.

Prediction of probable Alzheimer disease in patients with symptoms suggestive of memory impairment. Value of the Mini-Mental State Examination.

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  • 1Department of Family and Community Medicine, Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, Ontario.



The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) is a widely used diagnostic tool for dementia. Its use as a predictive indicator of probable Alzheimer disease (AD) has not been established.


To determine the accuracy of the MMSE in predicting emergent AD in a sample of patients who were referred because of symptoms suggestive of memory problems and to determine whether an abbreviated version of the MMSE could be developed that would be as accurate as the full MMSE in predicting emergent AD.


Inception cohort of participants with symptoms suggestive of memory impairment by their family physicians were given baseline assessments, including MMSE. After 2 years, the participants' conditions were diagnosed following the standard criterion for AD. Diagnosticians were blind to baseline scores.


One hundred eighty-three community-residing participants were referred by their family physicians to a university teaching hospital research investigation. After baseline screening, 165 participants were included in the study who did not have dementia and had no identifiable cause for memory impairment. After 2 years, 29 participants met criteria for AD, 98 did not develop dementia, 18 developed vascular lesions or non-AD dementia, and 20 did not return.


Diagnostic classification of AD or no evidence of dementia.


Logistic regression model was significant. At a cutoff score of 24 or less, sensitivity was 31%; specificity, 96%; with a likelihood ratio of 7.75. A reduced model of 2 subtests was identified with a sensitivity of 41%; specificity, 98%; with a likelihood ratio of 20.70.


Results suggest that the full or abbreviated MMSE is useful in predicting emergent AD in patients with positive test results. However, it is not recommended for use as a screening or diagnostic instrument since a negative test result did not rule out emergent AD. It is recommended as a tool to identify those needing closer monitoring.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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