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New Cognitive Assessment Tool Appears Effective

Sweet 16 found to be at least equivalent to Mini-Mental State Examination

THURSDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A new cognitive assessment tool, the Sweet 16, appears to be as effective as or superior to the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), according to a study published online Nov. 8 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Tamara G. Fong, M.D., of Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston, and colleagues developed the Sweet 16 instrument in a cohort from a large post-acute hospitalization study and compared the performance of the Sweet 16 with the MMSE. In addition, the investigators independently validated the Sweet 16 in a cohort from the Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study.

The investigators found that the Sweet 16 correlated highly with the MMSE. When validated against the Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly (IQCODE), the area under the curve was 0.81 for the MMSE and 0.84 for the Sweet 16 (P = .06). While an MMSE score of lower than 24 showed a sensitivity of 64 percent and a specificity of 86 percent against the IQCODE, a Sweet 16 score of lower than 14 (approximating an MMSE score below 24) showed a sensitivity of 80 percent and a specificity of 70 percent. Compared with clinical diagnosis, a Sweet 16 score below 14 had a sensitivity of 99 percent and a specificity of 72 percent versus an MMSE score with a sensitivity of 87 percent and a specificity of 89 percent.

"Further studies, including prospective studies to establish the predictive validity of the Sweet 16, to assess test-retest reliability, and to compare performance with other brief cognitive measures, are greatly needed," the authors write. "Ultimately, it is hoped that this test will help improve assessment of cognitive function across many settings."

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