Alzheimer's disease and related forms of dementia are becoming increasingly prevalent with the aging of many populations. The diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease relies on tests to evaluate cognition and discriminate between individuals with dementia and those without dementia. The Mini-Cog is a brief, cognitive screening test that is frequently used to evaluate cognition in older adults in various settings.
The primary objective of this review was to determine the diagnostic accuracy of the Mini-Cog for detecting Alzheimer's disease dementia and related dementias in a community setting.Secondary objectives included investigations of the heterogeneity of test accuracy in the included studies and potential sources of heterogeneity. These potential sources of heterogeneity included the baseline prevalence of dementia in study samples, thresholds used to determine positive test results, the type of dementia (Alzheimer's disease dementia or all causes of dementia), and aspects of study design related to study quality. Overall, the goals of this review were to determine if the Mini-Cog is a cognitive screening test that could be recommended to screen for cognitive impairment in community settings.
We searched MEDLINE (OvidSP), EMBASE (OvidSP), PsycINFO (Ovid SP), Science Citation Index (Web of Science), BIOSIS previews (Web of Science), LILACS (BIREME), and the Cochrane Dementia Group's developing register of diagnostic test accuracy studies to March 2013. We used citation tracking (using the database's 'related articles' feature, where available) as an additional search method and contacted authors of eligible studies for unpublished data.
We included all cross-sectional studies that utilized the Mini-Cog as an index test for the diagnosis of dementia when compared to a reference standard diagnosis of dementia using standardized dementia diagnostic criteria. For the current review we only included studies that were conducted on samples from community settings, and excluded studies that were conducted in primary care or secondary care settings. We considered studies to be conducted in a community setting where participants were sampled from the general population.
Information from studies meeting the inclusion criteria were extracted including information on the characteristics of participants in the studies. The quality of the studies was assessed using the QUADAS-2 criteria and summarized using risk of bias applicability and summary graphs. We extracted information on the diagnostic test accuracy of studies including the sensitivity, specificity, and 95% confidence intervals of these measures and summarized the findings using forest plots. Study specific sensitivities and specificities were also plotted in receiver operating curve space.
Three studies met the inclusion criteria, with a total of 1620 participants. The sensitivities of the Mini-Cog in the individual studies were reported as 0.99, 0.76 and 0.99. The specificity of the Mini-Cog varied in the individual studies and was 0.93, 0.89 and 0.83. There was clinical and methodological heterogeneity between the studies which precluded a pooled meta-analysis of the results. Methodological limitations were present in all the studies introducing potential sources of bias, specifically with respect to the methods for participant selection.
There are currently few studies assessing the diagnostic test accuracy of the Mini-Cog in community settings. The limited number of studies and the methodological limitations that are present in the current studies make it difficult to provide recommendations for or against the use of the Mini-Cog as a cognitive screening test in community settings. Additional well-designed studies comparing the Mini-Cog to other brief cognitive screening tests are required in order to determine the accuracy and utility of the Mini-Cog in community based settings.