Objectives: Agraphia is the loss or impairment of the ability to produce written language as a consequence of brain damage and is a well recognised feature of dementia. However there is no generally accepted classification of agraphic disorders. Our aim was to determine the influence of writing style, lettercase and sentence polarity of the writing component of Folstein's MMSE on the overall test score.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the ‘write a sentence’ request of Folstein's MMSE of 280 randomly selected patients attending a geriatric day hospital. We analysed four sentence characteristics: 1 Number of words, 2 Writing legibility, 3 Sentence polarity, 4 Letter case.
Results: 280 MMSE forms were examined, 165 were from female patients. Mean age was 81.7(± 6.6) years. Mean MMSE score was 21.6 (males: 21.9, females: 21.4). Significant correlation was detected between the overall MMSE score and both legibility and number of words. Legibility scores were significantly higher for females than for males (7.2 vs. 6.6, p < 0.03). The mean MMSE of females writing in lowercase was significantly higher than for those writing in uppercase (21.5 vs. 18.6, p < 0.05). The mean MMSE score of subjects writing sentences with a positive tone was significantly higher than that of those writing a neutral or negative sentence (22.6 vs. 21.0 p < 0.03).
Conclusions: We have demonstrated a relationship between the content and structure of the writing assessment aspect of the MMSE and the overall test score.