While the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) is one of the most widely used tools to screen for cognitive deficits, it can have limited sensitivity to detect early symptoms of dementia. Researchers in the Netherlands are now reporting positive results from a study which investigated whether the additional use of a Visual Association Test (VAT) could improve the predictive value of the MMSE score.
The analysis included data from 2,690 primary care patients aged 70 to 78 years who participated in the Prevention of Dementia by Intensive Vascular Care (preDIVA) trial. The authors assessed the change in the 30-point MMSE score over two years and measured VAT score at two years. VAT scores were categorised as perfect (6 points) or imperfect (≤5 points).
When comparing dichotomised VAT scores at the two-year assessment per category of change in MMSE score, the authors found groups with imperfect VAT scores had substantially higher rates of incident dementia.
Presenting the findings in the Annals of Family Medicine, the authors said administering the VAT in patients with a small decline on the MMSE over a two-year period has substantial incremental value for identifying those at elevated risk for developing dementia.