Discriminative Ability of Montreal Cognitive Assessment Subtests and Items in Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups

Sadaf Arefi Milani, Michael Marsiske, Catherine W. Striley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Introduction:The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) is a popular screening tool for Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). The psychometric properties of the MoCA have not been widely examined in minority groups. We aimed to analyze the discriminate ability of subtests and items by race and ethnicity given gold-standard clinical diagnosis of cognitive status.Methods:We analyzed data from the National Alzheimer Coordinating Center Uniform Data Set March 2018 data freeze. Stepwise regression was used to determine which subtests predicted cognitive status (normal cognition, MCI, or dementia), by race/ethnicity. Item discrimination and difficulty was calculated by race/ethnicity and cognitive status.Results:In our sample (n=3895), with an average age of 69.7, 80.7% were non-Hispanic white, 15.0% were non-Hispanic black, and 4.2% were Hispanic. Among non-Hispanic whites all subtests, education, and age predicted clinician diagnosis, while visuospatial/executive, attention, language, delayed recall, and orientation subtests were predictive among non-Hispanic blacks and visuospatial/executive, delayed recall, and orientation subtests and education were predictive among Hispanics. Item discrimination and difficulty varied by race/ethnicity and cognitive status.Conclusions:By understanding the psychometric properties of MoCA subtests, we can focus on subtests that have higher discrimination and more diagnostic utility. Subtests should be further evaluated for use in screening of minority individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-232
Number of pages7
JournalAlzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • Alzheimer disease
  • Montreal cognitive assessment
  • dementia
  • disparities
  • ethnicity
  • race
  • screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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