Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Folstein MMSE Definition:

Summary exam used to assess dementia.

Related Terms: ADEPT - Advanced Dementia Prognostic Tool, Dementia

Also known as the MMS, MMSE or Folstein's test.

See, also, the Global Deterioration Scale.

Often used on seniors to summarily assess cognitive functioning in the context of adult guardianship matters.

Begley and Jeffreys write:

"The Mini-Mental State Exam (is) a brief 30-item test, which measures orientation to time and place, immediate recall, short-term memory, calculation, language and constructive ability. Scores below 24 suggest the presence of cognitive impairment. This test is a very strong indicator of dementia."

This test is a series of 20-30 questions. Sample questions:

  • What day is today?
  • "Ball","flag","tree". Repeat.
  • Spell "world" backwards.

The patient is scored on points, 30 if there are 30 questions.

The test was developed by Marshal F. Folstein in 1975 by a research group of which he was lead; hence, the name.

The test is used as a commencement of a thorough diagnostic and is not usually expected to stand on its own in terms of prescribing care or treatment to a patient. Neurological testing compliments the MMSE and even MRI or CAT scans.

The Folstein has also been criticized as favoring seniors who have had professional careers as opposed to patients that had a rural life with less access to culture.

Folstein initially published the questionnaire in an academic journal (Journal of Psychiatric Research) and made little effort to impose copyright. But once the text proved popular, a company was created to license the MMSE test: the MiniMental LLC of Massachusetts, and a website.


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