Correction for a potentially biased item on the mattis dementia rating scale

Pamela M. Dean, Jane H. Cerhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Mattis Dementia Rating Scale (MDRS) is a multidimensional cognitive measure popular with clinicians for its brevity, diagnostic validity, and utility in monitoring impairment severity. In spite of the test's significant value, one task can cause discomfort because the patient is asked to name items the examiner is wearing. This task also creates possible cultural bias and standardization issues. We studied 102 MDRS profiles that included this item. Adjusted scores were calculated by giving all patients full credit for the apparel-naming item. The average adjustment was just one point, and the resulting dementia-severity ratings remained unchanged in 97% of the patients. These results show that administration of the item can be defensibly skipped if there is concern about its appropriateness with an individual patient. The adjusted scores provide a viable and fair alternative that preserves the psychometric properties of this useful instrument.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)734-737
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • cognition
  • dementia
  • test
  • verbal fluency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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