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Limits of the ‘Mini-Mental State’ as a screening test for dementia and delirium among hospital patients

  • James C. Anthony (a1), Linda LeResche (a1), Unaiza Niaz (a1), Michael R. Von Korff (a1) and Marshal F. Folstein (a1)...

With a psychiatrist's standardized clinical diagnosis as the criterion, the ‘Mini-Mental State’ Examination (MMSE) was 87% sensitive and 82% specific in detecting dementia and delirium among hospital patients on a general medical ward. The false positive ratio was 39% and the false negative ratio was 5 %. All false positives had less than 9 years of education; many were 60 years of age or older. Performance on specific MMSE items was related to education or age. These findings confirm the MMSE's value as a screen instrument for dementia and delirium when later, more intensive diagnostic enquiry is possible; they reinforce earlier suggestions that the MMSE alone cannot yield a diagnosis for these conditions.

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1Address for correspondence: Dr James C. Anthony, Department of Mental Hygiene, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, 615 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.
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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
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