The Clock Drawing Test: Performance differences between the free-drawn and incomplete-copy versions in patients with MCI and dementia

ABSTRACT Background: The Clock Drawing Test (CDT) is a brief cognitive screening tool for dementia. Several different presentation formats and scoring methods for the CDT are available in the literature. Objective: In this study we aimed to compare performance on the free-drawn and "incomplete-copy" versions of the CDT using the same short scoring method in Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and dementia patients, and healthy elderly participants. Methods: 90 participants (controlled for age, sex and education) subdivided into control group (n=20), MCI group (n=30) and dementia group (n=40) (Alzheimer's disease - AD=20; Vascular Dementia - VD=20) were recruited for this study. The participants performed the two CDT versions at different times and a blinded neuropsychologist scored the CDTs using the same scoring system. Results: The scores on the free-drawn version were significantly lower than the incomplete-copy version for all groups. The dementia group had significantly lower scores on the incomplete-copy version of the CDT than the control group. MCI patients did not differ significantly from the dementia or control groups. Performance on the free-drawn copy differed significantly among all groups. Conclusion: The free-drawn CDT version is more cognitively demanding and sensitive for detecting mild/early cognitive impairment. Further evaluation of the diagnostic value (accuracy) of the free-drawn CDT in Brazilian MCI patients is needed.