Psychometric properties of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) in inpatient liver transplant candidates

Sarah M. Szymkowicz, Pamela E. May, Justin W. Weeks, Debra O’Connell, Amelia L. Nelson Sheese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a consequence of liver disease and often diagnosed via psychometric testing. With inpatients, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) may be used as part of cognitive screening for transplant candidacy. However, the MoCA was developed to detect mild cognitive impairment in aging populations and its psychometric properties in inpatients with liver disease have not been determined. Retrospective chart review identified inpatient liver transplant candidates who were administered a MoCA as part of their neuropsychological screening and had either no cognitive dysfunction or a diagnosis of HE made by a neuropsychologist (n = 57, mean age = 48.8 ± 12.6 years). Psychometric analyses were conducted and regression analysis was performed to determine the predictive value of different variables on total MoCA scores. Internal consistency of MoCA domain scores was good (α = 0.80). Significant inverse relationships were found with Trail Making Test, Parts A and B (r’s = −0.43 and −0.71, respectively). A cutoff score of 24 or below had the best sensitivity (0.72) and specificity (0.77) for identifying those with a diagnosis of HE. Increasing age and the presence of altered mental status were the strongest predictors of lower MoCA scores (both p’s < 0.05, ηp2 = 0.10–0.14). The MoCA is appropriate to use with inpatient liver transplant candidates, with a cutoff of 24 or below to detect abnormal cognition. In addition to the clinical interview and other neuropsychological tests (including, but not limited to, the Trail Making Test, Parts A and B), low MoCA scores can help determine the presence of HE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-26
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Neuropsychology:Adult
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024


  • Adults
  • brief assessment
  • cognitive screening
  • liver disease
  • psychometrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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