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Estimating prevalence of subjective cognitive decline in and across international cohort studies of aging: a COSMIC study

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Carol Brayne, Professor Fiona MatthewsORCiD, Professor Bloss Stephan, Sebastian Kohler



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2020, The Author(s).Background: Subjective cognitive decline (SCD) is recognized as a risk stage for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias, but its prevalence is not well known. We aimed to use uniform criteria to better estimate SCD prevalence across international cohorts. Methods: We combined individual participant data for 16 cohorts from 15 countries (members of the COSMIC consortium) and used qualitative and quantitative (Item Response Theory/IRT) harmonization techniques to estimate SCD prevalence. Results: The sample comprised 39,387 cognitively unimpaired individuals above age 60. The prevalence of SCD across studies was around one quarter with both qualitative harmonization/QH (23.8%, 95%CI = 23.3–24.4%) and IRT (25.6%, 95%CI = 25.1–26.1%); however, prevalence estimates varied largely between studies (QH 6.1%, 95%CI = 5.1–7.0%, to 52.7%, 95%CI = 47.4–58.0%; IRT: 7.8%, 95%CI = 6.8–8.9%, to 52.7%, 95%CI = 47.4–58.0%). Across studies, SCD prevalence was higher in men than women, in lower levels of education, in Asian and Black African people compared to White people, in lower- and middle-income countries compared to high-income countries, and in studies conducted in later decades. Conclusions: SCD is frequent in old age. Having a quarter of older individuals with SCD warrants further investigation of its significance, as a risk stage for AD and other dementias, and of ways to help individuals with SCD who seek medical advice. Moreover, a standardized instrument to measure SCD is needed to overcome the measurement variability currently dominant in the field.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rohr S, Pabst A, Riedel-Heller SG, Jessen F, Turana Y, Handajani YS, Brayne C, Matthews FE, Stephan BCM, Lipton RB, Katz MJ, Wang C, Guerchet M, Preux P-M, Mbelesso P, Ritchie K, Ancelin M-L, Carriere I, Guaita A, Davin A, Vaccaro R, Kim KW, Han JW, Suh SW, Shahar S, Din NC, Vanoh D, van Boxtel M, Kohler S, Ganguli M, Jacobsen EP, Snitz BE, Anstey KJ, Cherbuin N, Kumagai S, Chen S, Narazaki K, Ng TP, Gao Q, Gwee X, Brodaty H, Kochan NA, Trollor J, Lobo A, Lopez-Anton R, Santabarbara J, Crawford JD, Lipnicki DM, Sachdev PS

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Alzheimer's Research and Therapy

Year: 2020

Volume: 12

Online publication date: 18/12/2020

Acceptance date: 26/11/2020

Date deposited: 03/01/2021

ISSN (electronic): 1758-9193

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd


DOI: 10.1186/s13195-020-00734-y


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