Interpreting MMSE performance in highly proficient bilingual Spanish-English and Asian Indian-English speakers: Demographic adjustments, item analyses, and supplemental measures
Performance on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), among the most widely used global screens of adult cognitive status, is affected by demographic variables including age, education, and ethnicity. This study extends prior research by examining the specific effects of bilingualism on MMSE performance.
Sixty independent community-dwelling monolingual and bilingual adults were recruited from Eastern and Western regions of the United States in this cross-sectional group study. Independent sample t-tests were used to compare two bilingual groups (Spanish-English and Asian Indian-English) with matched monolingual speakers on the MMSE, demographically adjusted MMSE scores, MMSE item scores, and a nonverbal cognitive measure. Regression analyses were also performed to determine whether language proficiency predicted MMSE performance in both groups of bilingual speakers.
Group differences were evident on the MMSE, on demographically adjusted MMSE scores, and on a small subset of individual MMSE items. Scores on a standardized screen of language proficiency predicted a significant proportion of the variance in the MMSE scores of both bilingual groups.
Bilingual speakers demonstrated distinct performance profiles on the MMSE. Results suggest that supplementing the MMSE with a language screen, administering a nonverbal measure, and/or evaluating item-based patterns of performance may assist with test interpretation for this population.