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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1993 May;41(5):491-7.

Correlates of cognitive function scores in elderly outpatients.

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  • 1Epidemiology Unit, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston 02114.



To determine medical, ophthalmologic, and demographic predictors of cognitive function scores as measured by the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS), an adaptation of the Folstein Mini-Mental Status Exam. A secondary objective was to perform an item-by-item analysis of the TICS scores to determine which items correlated most highly with the overall scores.


Cross-sectional cohort study.


The Glaucoma Consultation Service of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.


472 of 565 consecutive patients age 65 and older who were seen at the Glaucoma Consultation Service between November 1, 1987 and October 31, 1988.


Each subject had a standard visual examination and review of medical history at entry, followed by a telephone interview that collected information on demographic characteristics, cognitive status, health status, accidents, falls, symptoms of depression, and alcohol intake.


A multivariate linear regression model of correlates of TICS score found the strongest correlates to be education, age, occupation, and the presence of depressive symptoms. The only significant ocular condition that correlated with lower TICS score was the presence of surgical aphakia (model R2 = .46). Forty-six percent (216/472) of patients fell below the established definition of normal on the mental status scale. In a logistic regression analysis, the strongest correlates of an abnormal cognitive function score were age, diabetes, educational status, and occupational status. An item analysis using step-wise linear regression showed that 85 percent of the variance in the TICS score was explained by the ability to perform serial sevens and to repeat 10 items immediately after hearing them. Educational status correlated most highly with both of these items (Kendall Tau R = .43 and Kendall Tau R = .30, respectively).


Education, occupation, depression, and age were the strongest correlates of the score on this new screening test for assessing cognitive status. These factors were stronger correlates of the TICS score than chronic medical conditions, visual loss, or medications. The Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status is a useful instrument, but it may overestimate the prevalence of dementia in studies with a high prevalence of persons with less than a high school education.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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