The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) was developed as a screening tool for mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Given the need for a rapid screening test in settings such as primary care, we compare the validity of the Rapid Cognitive Screen (RCS) against the MoCA, and determine cut-off scores in the old and old-old.
Cross-sectional study involving community-dwelling ‘old’ (65 to 79 years old) and ‘old-old’ (≥ 80 years old) without dementia. Cognitive impairment was defined by MoCA score 17 to 22. Validation was done using the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis: area under the curve (AUC), sensitivity (Sn), and specificity (Sp).
Of the 183 participants (mean age 72.1 ± 5.2 years),15.8% (n = 29) were classified as cognitively impaired. The overall ROC curve had an AUC of 0.82 (95% CI 0.75–0.90, P < 0.01) with an optimal cut-off of 7/8 on RCS (Sn 0.77, Sp 0.72). The ‘old’ and ‘old-old’ group had AUC of 0.82 (95% CI 0.74–0.91, P < 0.01) with 8/9 as optimal cut-off (Sn 0.51, Sp 0.96) and AUC of 0.85 (95% CI 0.66–1.03, P < 0.01) with 7/8 as optimal cut-off (Sn 0.71, Sp 1.00) respectively. In multivariate analysis, age was associated with 0.05 (95% CI -0.10-0.00, P < 0.04) point decrement, while >6 years of education was associated with 0.82 (95% CI 0.32–1.33, P < 0.01) point increment in RCS scores.
The three-item RCS is quick and easy to administer. Although RCS met the criterion for good validity against MoCA in predicting cognitive impairment, its utility as a first-line screening tool needs to be further validated in a large-scale population study.