BackgroundClinical monitoring of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) for cognitive decline is an important element of care. The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) has been proposed to be a sensitive tool for assessing cognitive impairment in PD. The aim of our study was to compare the responsiveness of the MoCA to decline in cognition to the responsiveness of the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Scales for Outcomes of Parkinson's disease-cognition (SCOPA-Cog).
MethodsPD patients without dementia were enrolled at 6 North American movement disorders centers between 2008 and 2011. Participants received annual evaluations including the MoCA, MMSE, and SCOPA-Cog followed by formal neuropsychological testing. The gold standard for change in cognition was defined as the change on the neuropsychological test scores over the annual assessments. The Reliable Change Method was used to provide an estimate of the probability that a given difference score would be obtained by chance. The sensitivity of the MoCA, MMSE, and SCOPA-Cog to change was quantified using receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curves.
ResultsOne hundred seventeen patients were included in the analysis. Participants were followed at mean intervals of 11 ± 2 months for a median of 2 (maximum 5) visits. According to the reliable change index, 56 intervals of cognitive testing showed a decline in global cognition. ROC analysis of change in MoCA, MMSE, and SCOPA-Cog global scores compared to gold standard testing found an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.55 (95% CI 0.48-0.62), 0.56 (0.48-0.63), and 0.63 (0.55-0.70) respectively. There were no significant differences in the AUCs across the tests. The sensitivity of the MoCA, MMSE, and SCOPA-Cog to change at various thresholds for decline in scores reached a maximum of 71% for a cut-off of 1 point change on the SCOPA-Cog.
ConclusionUsing neuropsychological testing as a gold standard comparator, the performance of the MoCA, MMSE, and SCOPA-Cog for detecting decline in non-demented PD patients over a 1-year interval is poor. This has implications for clinical practice; stable scores may not be taken as reassurance of the absence of cognitive decline.