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Examining the validity of the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and its domains using network analysis

Background: The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) is the most widely used standardised screener for impairments across a range of cognitive domains. However, the degree to which its domains (orientation, registration, attention, recall, language, and visuospatial) capture cognitive functioning measured using standardised neuropsychological tests is unclear. Method: A longitudinal research design with four biannual assessments over a 6-year period was used with an initial sample of 1037 older adults (aged above 70 years). Participants completed MMSE and neuropsychological tests at each assessment. Network analysis was utilised to investigate unique associations among the MMSE and its domains and neuropsychological test performance at each time point. Results: The total MMSE and two of its domains, language and recall, were associated with neuropsychological memory performance. The MMSE orientation, registration and visuospatial domains did not have any unique associations with neuropsychological performance. No stable internal interconnections between MMSE domains were found over time. The association of total MMSE as well as its recall domain with neuropsychological memory performance remained very similar over the 6-year period. Conclusions: The present study adds evidence to the validity of the MMSE and supports the clinical usage of the MMSE, whereby the total score is used for screening patients with or without cognitive impairments, with repeated administration to monitor cognitive changes over time, to inform intervention. However, the tool is not able to diagnose the cases for changes in specific cognitive domains and as such, should not replace a complete neuropsychological assessment.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
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