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J Clin Epidemiol. 1990;43(7):651-60.

Sensitivity and specificity of standardized screens of cognitive impairment and dementia among elderly black and white community residents.

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  • 1Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 22710.


Six standardized published measures of cognitive function were evaluated as screens of dementia in a sample of 164 (83 black, 81 white) community residents aged 65 and over selected from the Duke University EPESE (Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly), a biracial cohort of 4164 residents in a five county area of piedmont North Carolina. Of these 164 persons, 26 were subsequently diagnosed as demented. The weighted data from this sample represent the estimated performance of these measures among elderly blacks and whites in a five county area. The 6 measures evaluated in this study (specificity figures for blacks precede those for whites) were (1) Orientation-Memory-Concentration Test (38%, 79%), (2) Mental Status Questionnaire (71%, 96%), (3) Mini-Mental State (58%, 94%), (4) Storandt et al. Battery (42%, 69%), (5) Iowa Battery (26%, 69%) and (6) Kendrick Cognitive Tests (92%, 97%). All but the Kendrick Cognitive Tests showed substantial sensitivity (90-100%) in detecting the presence of dementia. The specificity of the tests was particularly poor for blacks. The briefer, simpler measures tended to have greater accuracy than the longer and more complex measures. With rare exceptions, the scores obtained on these screens correlated with race and education.

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