Importance: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has identified the need to assess functional cognition as part of the postacute care planning process.
Objective: We examined the reliability, validity, and clinical utility of the Menu Task (MT) as a screening measure of functional cognition to assess the need for occupational therapy services.
Design: Cross-sectional study testing a convenience sample of community-dwelling older adults (n = 130) and adults hospitalized for elective orthopedic surgery (n = 60). The MT and four neuropsychological screening tests—the Brief Interview of Mental Status, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, Trail Making Tests A and B, and an instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) scale—were administered.
Setting: Community-dwelling participants were tested at the University of Wisconsin occupational therapy program and in community settings. Hospitalized participants were tested at the University of Missouri Orthopedic Institute.
Participants: We recruited healthy community-dwelling adults in Madison, WI (community sample; n = 130) and patients hospitalized for elective orthopedic surgery in Columbia, MO (hospital sample; n = 60). Inclusion criteria were age 55 yr or older, living in the community, and willingness to be tested in English; for the hospital sample, participants had to be referred for elective orthopedic surgery requiring a hospital stay and be independent in activities of daily living before being admitted for surgery.
Results: We found significant differences between groups classified as impaired or not impaired on the basis of MT scores. Participants classified as impaired on the MT performed significantly less well than those classified as not impaired on the neurocognitive and IADL measures.
Conclusion: The reliability and validity of the MT were supported.
What This Article Adds: The American Occupational Therapy Association and the occupational therapy experts advising CMS have stressed the importance of a brief performance-based screening tool to identify people who need more comprehensive occupational therapy evaluation. The implementation of a functional cognition screening tool as part of the required CMS assessment protocol should greatly increase the number of patients referred for occupational therapy evaluation and treatment. The MT has the capacity to address the gap in the proposed CMS assessment of Medicare recipients across postacute care settings.