This study aims at determining The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) are the most commonly used scales to detect mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in population-based epidemiologic studies. However, their comparison on which is best suited to assess cognition is scarce in samples from multiple regions of China.

We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 4923 adults aged ≥55 years from the Community-based Cohort Study on Nervous System Diseases. Objective cognition was assessed by Chinese versions of MMSE and MoCA, and total score and subscores of cognitive domains were calculated for each. Education-specific cutoffs of total score were used to diagnose MCI. Demographic and health-related characteristics were collected by questionnaires. Correlation and agreement for MCI between MMSE and MoCA were analyzed; group differences in cognition were evaluated; and multiple logistic regression model was used to clarify risk factors for MCI.

The overall MCI prevalence was 28.6% for MMSE and 36.2% for MoCA. MMSE had good correlation with MoCA (Spearman correlation coefficient = 0.8374, p < 0.0001) and moderate agreement for detecting MCI with Kappa value of 0.5973 (p < 0.0001). Ceiling effect for MCI was less frequent using MoCA versus MMSE according to the distribution of total score. Percentage of relative standard deviation, the measure of inter-individual variance.

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