This is really an odd story when it comes to mental health evaluations as the MMSE as it is called has been around for 25 years and now all of a sudden wants to enforce it’s copyright.  Harvard came up with a tool to replace but due to the fact imagethat some of the information is in the MMSE, they had to take down their website toll called “Sweet 16”.  The test is used to screen patients and help doctors diagnose problems without any specialized training.  Now the test is getting harder to find and much less use, along with the forms. 

Now you have to pay for the test since it has been licensed by PAR.  This should be open source for anyone to use.  BD 

For twenty five years, doctors and psychologists made use, free of charge, of the of the Mini–Mental State Examination, a 30 item list of questions used to cognitively screen patients for different mental tasks. It was used in textbooks, in medical schools, and a number of other applications. That’s because it was incredibly useful for doctors to use in order to diagnose certain ailments, even without specialized training.

In 2000, however, the authors of the MMSE started to enforce their copyright – for the first time since its initial publication in 1975. They granted a license to the company Psychological Assessment Resources, which now charges for use of the MMSE. As a result, the MMSE is now being used in fewer and fewer textbooks and other applications.

In response to the loss of a useful diagnostic tool, a group of researchers from Harvard developed the “Sweet 16″ in March of 2011. The Sweet 16 is comprised of 16 questions, used for the same cognitive screening tasks as the MMSE. Not only that, it performed as well or better than the MMSE, and the researchers made it freely available to anyone who wanted it.

However, because the Sweet 16 form uses some parts of the MMSE, PAR has demanded that the Sweet 16 be taken down from the Internet. This request has been complied with and the tool is no longer available for download.

The bottom line, according to Grimmelmann, is that the authors of the Sweet 16 pretty much “did everything right” by ensuring that the expressive portions of their test were different. And where those questions are similar to the MMSE, they’re not copyrightable. Nor, for that matter, are the forms used to administer the Sweet 16. Now, if the authors of the Sweet 16 were to copy portions of, say, a diagnostic manual explain the best way to administer the test, that probably (and rightly) would be a violation of copyright.


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