BACKGROUND : Cognitive impairment is a core feature of schizophrenia that also has strong
prognostic significance. In most clinical settings comprehensive neuropsychological testing to
detect cognitive impairment in schizophrenia patients is not readily available, but because
cognitive deficits in schizophrenia are clinically important it would be useful to detect or at least
screen for them in a clinical setting. Unfortunately there are no validated, brief screening
instruments for the detection of cognitive impairment in schizophrenia. Nevertheless, the
Montreal Cognitive Assessment Test (MoCA) and the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE)
show promise in this regard. The objective of this study was to compare the results of the MMSE
and MoCA in a group of outpatient schizophrenia sufferers to contribute to research into the
instruments’ potential usefulness as screening tools for cognitive impairment in schizophrenia.
METHOD : The Afrikaans versions of the MMSE and MoCA were administered to Afrikaansspeaking
adult outpatients. Participants had at least seven years of formal education and had
been in partial or full remission for at least 3 months. The MMSE and MoCA scores for each
participant were matched and compared using the non-parametric Wilcoxon matched pairs test.
RESULTS : The sample consisted of 30 Afrikaans-speaking outpatients with schizophrenia.
The mean MMSE score was 27.17 ± 2.64, and the mean MoCA score was 22.53 ± 3.91. There
was a statistically significant difference between participants’ performance on the MMSE and
MoCA tests (p = 0.000008).
CONCLUSION : Compared to the MMSE, the MoCA may be a more useful instrument to detect
cognitive impairment in patients with schizophrenia. Further studies are required.