Clinical and Objective Cognitive Measures for the Diagnosis of Cognitive Frailty Subtypes: A Comparative Study


Cognitive frailty (CF) includes reversible and potentially reversible subtypes; the former is known as concurrent physical frailty (PF) and pre-mild cognitive impairment subjective cognitive decline (pre-MCI SCD), whereas the latter is known as concurrent PF and MCI. The diagnoses of pre-MCI SCD and MCI are based on clinical criteria and various subjective cognitive decline questionnaires. Heterogeneous assessment of cognitive impairment (CI) results in significant variability of CI, CF, and their subtype prevalence in various population-based studies.


This study aimed to compare the classification differences in CI and CF subtypes from PF and normal cognition by applying clinical and objective cognitive criteria. Clinical criteria comprised Fried PF and clinical MCI criteria combined with the SCD questionnaire, whereas objective criteria comprised Fried PF and objective cognitive criteria based on the norm-adjusted six neuropsychological test scores.


Of the 335 volunteers (age ≥ 60 years) in this study, 191 were diagnosed with CI based on clinical cognitive diagnosis criteria, and 144 were identified as robust normal based on objective cognitive assessment from the community-dwelling older adult cohort. Individuals with clinical CI, including 94 with MCI and 97 with pre-MCI SCD, were reclassified into different z-score-derived MCI, pre-MCI SCD, and normal subgroups based on objective cognitive criteria. The classification diagnostic accuracy of normal cognition, PF, pre-MCI, MCI, CF, and CF subtypes based on clinical and objective criteria was compared before and after adjusting for age, sex, and education level.


The reclassification of objective assessments indicated better performance than that of clinical assessments in terms of discerning CI severity among different subgroups before adjusting for demographic factors. After covariate adjustment, clinical assessments significantly improved the ability to cognitively discriminate normal individuals from those with pre-MCI SCD and MCI but not the z-score-derived pre-MCI SCD and MCI groups from the robust normal group. Furthermore, the adjustment did not improve the ability to discriminate among individuals with reversible CF from those with potentially reversible CF and pre-MCI only SCD from MCI only SCD.


Objective criteria showed better performance than clinical criteria in the diagnosis of individuals with CI or CF subtypes. Rapid clinical cognitive screening in combination with normative z-scores criteria is cost effective and sustainable in clinical practice.

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