Neuropsychological screening tools in Italian HIV+ patients: a comparison of Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE)

Nicoletta Ciccarelli, Roberto Cauda, Simona Di Giambenedetto, Benedetta Milanini, Massimiliano Fabbiani, Eleonora Baldonero, Silio Limiti, Roberta Gagliardini, Alberto Borghetti, Alessandro D'Avino, Annalisa Mondi, Manuela Colafigli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Despite the progress in HIV treatments, mild forms of cognitive impairment still persist. Brief and sensitive screening tools are needed. We evaluated the accuracy of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) compared to the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) to detect cognitive impairment in HIV-infected participants. Method: HIV-infected patients were consecutively enrolled during routine outpatient visits at a single institution. The MoCA, the MMSE, and a comprehensive neuropsychological battery were administered. Patients were considered as affected by cognitive impairment if they showed decreased cognitive function in at least two ability domains based on age and education adjusted Italian normative cut-offs. Results: Ninety-three HIV-infected participants (75% males, median age 47, all on antiretroviral therapy; 90% HIV-RNA <50copies/mL, median CD4 644 cells/μL) were enrolled. Thirteen participants (14%) were diagnosed as cognitively compromised via a comprehensive neuropsychological examination. The area under the curve of the adjusted MMSE and MoCA scores to detect cognitive impairment were.51 (95% CI =.31–.72, p =.877) and.70 (95% CI =.53–.86, p =.025), respectively. A MoCA score <22 was able to predict the cognitive impairment with 62% of sensitivity and 76% of specificity. Conclusions: Our findings suggested that the prognostic performance of the MoCA to detect cognitive impairment among mildly impaired HIV-infected participants was only moderate. Further investigations are needed to identify optimal cognitive tests to screen HIV-infected individuals or to explore whether a combination of cognitive tests might represent a viable alternative to a single screening tool.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1457-1468
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • AIDS
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • HIV
  • HIV dementia
  • Neuropsychological test
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental Health
  • cognitive disorders


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