Diagnostic performance of short portable mental status questionnaire for screening dementia among patients attending cognitive assessment clinics in Singapore.



The Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire (SPMSQ) is a brief cognitive screening instrument, which is easy to use by a healthcare worker with little training. However, the validity of this instrument has not been established in Singapore. Thus, the primary aim of this study was to determine the diagnostic performance of SPMSQ for screening dementia among patients attending outpatient cognitive assessment clinics and to assess whether the appropriate cut-off score varies by patient's age and education. A secondary aim of the study was to map the SPMSQ scores with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores.

Materials and methods

SPMSQ and MMSE were administered by a trained interviewer to 127 patients visiting outpatient cognitive assessment clinics at the Singapore General Hospital, Changi General Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital. The geriatricians at these clinics then diagnosed these patients with dementia or no dementia (reference standard). Sensitivity and specificity of SPMSQ with different cut-off points (number of errors) were calculated and compared to the reference standard using the Receiver Operator Characteristic (ROC) analysis. Correlation coefficient was also calculated between MMSE and SPMSQ scores.


Based on the ROC analysis and a balance of sensitivity and specificity, the appropriate cut-off for SPMSQ was found to be 5 or more errors (sensitivity 78%, specificity 75%). The cut-off varied by education, but not by patient's age. There was a high correlation between SPMSQ and MMSE scores (r = 0.814, P <0.0001).


Despite the advantage of being a brief screening instrument for dementia, the use of SPMSQ is limited by its low sensitivity and specificity, especially among patients with less than 6 years of education.







David Bruce Matchar

Professor of Medicine

My research relates to clinical practice improvement - from the development of clinical policies to their implementation in real world clinical settings. Most recently my major content focus has been cerebrovascular disease. Other major clinical areas in which I work include the range of disabling neurological conditions, cardiovascular disease, and cancer prevention.
Notable features of my work are: (1) reliance on analytic strategies such as meta-analysis, simulation, decision analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis; (2) a balancing of methodological rigor the needs of medical professionals; and (3) dependence on interdisciplinary groups of experts.
This approach is best illustrated by the Stroke Prevention Patient Outcome Research Team (PORT), for which I served as principal investigator. Funded by the AHCPR, the PORT involved 35 investigators at 13 institutions. The Stroke PORT has been highly productive and has led to a stroke prevention project funded as a public/private partnership by the AHCPR and DuPont Pharma, the Managing Anticoagulation Services Trial (MAST). MAST is a practice improvement trial in 6 managed care organizations, focussing on optimizing anticoagulation for individuals with atrial fibrillation.
I serve as consultant in the general area of analytic strategies for clinical policy development, as well as for specific projects related to stroke (e.g., acute stroke treatment, management of atrial fibrillation, and use of carotid endarterectomy.) I have worked with AHCPR (now AHRQ), ACP, AHA, AAN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NSA, WHO, and several pharmaceutical companies.
Key Words: clinical policy, disease management, stroke, decision analysis, clinical guidelines

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