Comparison of the Saint Louis University mental status examination and the mini-mental state examination for detecting dementia and mild neurocognitive disorder—a pilot study

Syed H Tariq, Nina Tumosa, John T Chibnall, Mitchell H Perry, John E Morley
American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 2006, 14 (11): 900-10

CONTEXT: The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) is commonly used as a screening tool to detect dementia. However, it performs poorly in identifying persons with mild neurocognitive disorder. The Saint Louis University Mental Status (SLUMS) examination is a 30-point screening questionnaire that tests for orientation, memory, attention, and executive functions.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to compare SLUMS and the MMSE for detecting dementia and mild neurocognitive disorder (MNCD) using Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria.

METHODS: Patients at the Veterans' Affairs Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, St. Louis, MO (N = 702) were clinically classified as having normal cognitive functioning, MNCD, or dementia based on DSM-IV criteria. The SLUMS and MMSE were administered for comparison.

RESULTS: Mean age was 75.3 years (standard deviation: 5.5). Regarding education, 62.4% of the sample had at least completed high school and 30.6% had not. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated and receiver operator curves (ROCs) generated for SLUMS and MMSE as a function of diagnosis (MCND versus dementia) and education. Both the SLUMS and MMSE produced acceptable ROCs for the diagnosis of dementia, but the ROCs for SLUMS were better than the MMSE for the diagnosis of MNCD in both education groups.

CONCLUSION: These results suggest that the SLUMS and MMSE have comparable sensitivities, specificities, and area under the curve in detecting dementia. Although the definition of MNCD is controversial, the authors believe that the SLUMS is possibly better at detecting mild neurocognitive disorder, which the MMSE failed to detect, but this needs to be further investigated.

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