Exercise: Screening for dementia

This website is for students following the M.Sc. in Evidence Based Practice at the University of York.

The following is the abstract of a paper:

Introduction. Screening tests for dementia are a fundamental tool in specialist consultation and primary care. The instruments currently used are time-consuming and the diagnostic performance they offer is rather poor The original version of the Buschke Memory Impairment Screen (MIS) is a quick simple test with high discriminatory power.

Aims. Our aim was to validate a Spanish version of the MIS in specialist consultation.

Patients and methods. We conducted a prospective study in 91 subjects aged over 60 who visited the outpatient department for cognitive evaluation. All the patients received a similar diagnostic evaluation and the MIS was administered as a blind test. This Spanish version of the MIS was produced by means of a cross-cultural adaptation.

Results. The area below the ROC curve for dementia on the MIS was 0.92, with a similar result for cognitive deterioration (CD). A cut-off score of 4 or less offered a sensitivity rate of 91.9% (CI 95%: 83.4-96.4%) and a specificity level of 81.0% (CI 95%; 70.3-88.6%) for the detection of CD. Likewise, a cut-off score of 3 or below presented a sensitivity rate of 96.1% (CI 95%: 85.7-99.3%) and a degree of specificity of 72.6% (CI 95%: 63.2-80.3%)for the detection of dementia. Interobserver and test-retest reliability (0.85 and 0.81, respectively) were adequate.

Conclusions. This version of the Buschke MIS offers a high level of discriminatory power both for dementia and for CD, as well as an adequate degree of inter and intraobserver reliability within the context of a specialist consultation. Because it is quick (less than 4 minutes) and simple to administer, MIS represents a reasonable alternative to other screening methods.

(Source: Perez-Martinez DA, Baztan JJ, Gonzalez-Becerra M, Socorro A. Evaluation of the diagnostic value of a Spanish adaptation of the Buschke Memory Impairment screen in the detection of dementia and cognitive impairment. Revista de Neurologia 2005; 40: 644-648.)

Questions about this abstract:

  1. What is a ROC curve?
    Check suggested answer.
  2. What does the area below the ROC curve tell us? What can we conclude from area = 0.92?
    Check suggested answer.
  3. For the detection of dementia, a cut-off score of 4 or less had sensitivity = 91.9% and specificity = 81.0%, and a cut-off score of 3 or less had sensitivity = 96.1% and specificity = 72.6%. Why did lowering the cutoff increase sensitivity and reduce specificity?
    Check suggested answer.

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Last updated: 1 March, 2007.

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