Date: 19 Feb 2010

Impact of sociodemographic and health variables on mini-mental state examination in a community-based sample of older people

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The mini-mental state examination (MMSE) has been widely used as a screening instrument for cognitive disorders. Age, schooling and many other sociodemographic and health variables may be associated with a worse performance on the MMSE. The objectives of this study were to investigate the distribution of MMSE percentiles in a large Brazilian community-based elderly sample, divided according to age and schooling, and to evaluate the impact of sociodemographic and health variables on groups of elderly people with lower cognitive performance. The MMSE was applied to a sample of 2,708 adults, aged 60 years and older. Of this population, 1,563 individuals were living in the city of São Paulo, while 1,145 were living in the city of Ribeirão Preto. The subjects were divided into six groups according to the amount of schooling that they had received (no formal education, 1–4 and ≥5 years) and age (<75 and ≥75 years old). To each one of the subgroups a stepwise logistic regression was applied, considering the following dependent variable: subjects who scored under or above the 15th percentile on MMSE. High scores on a depression scale, high scores on a memory complaints scale and low socio-economic levels were associated with poorer performance on the MMSE. Being currently employed and being married were related to higher scores on the test. Many sociodemographic and health variables can influence MMSE performance, with impacts depending on age and schooling. Clinicians and primary care physicians should pay attention to variables that may be associated with worse cognitive performance.