Background: The Mini-mental State Examination (MMSE) has not been validated in Arabic speaking populations. The Brookdale Cognitive Screening Test (BCST) has been developed for use in low schooling populations. We investigated the influence of gender, education and occupation in a cognitively normal community sample which was assessed using an Arabic translation of the MMSE and the BCST.
Methods: Cognitively normal subjects (n = 266, 59.4% males, mean age (SD): 72.4 (5.5) years) from an Arab community in northern Israel (Wadi Ara) were evaluated. Education was categorized into levels: 1 = 0–4 years, 2 = 5–8 years, 3 = 9–12 years. Effects of gender, education and occupation on MMSE and BCST were analyzed by ANOVA, taking age as a covariate.
Results: The mean MMSE score of males [26.3 (4.1)] was higher than that of females [23.6 (4.2) points]. Two-way ANOVA showed a significant interaction between gender and education on MMSE (p = 0.0017) and BCST scores (p = 0.0002). The effect of gender on MMSE and BCST was significant in education level 1 (p < 0.0001, both tests) and level 2 (p < 0.05, both tests). For education level 1, MMSE and BCST scores were higher for males, while both scores were higher for females in education level 2. The effect of occupation was not significant for both genders.
Conclusion: Education and gender influence performance when using the Arabic translation of the MMSE and BCST in cognitively normal elderly. Cognitively normal females with 0–4 years of education scored lower than males. These results should be taken into consideration in the daily use of these instruments in Arabic.