Several methods of estimating prevalence of dementia are presented in this article. For both Brookmeyer and the Chicago Health and Aging project (CHAP), the estimates of prevalence are derived statistically, forward calculating from incidence and survival figures. The choice of incidence rates on which to build the estimates may be critical. Brookmeyer used incidence rates from several published studies, whereas the CHAP investigators applied the incidence rates observed in their own cohort. The Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study (ADAMS) and the East Boston Senior Health Project (EBSHP) were sample surveys designed to ascertain the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. ADAMS obtained direct estimates by relying on probability sampling nationwide. EBSHP relied on projection of localized prevalence estimates to the national population. The sampling techniques of ADAMS and EBSHP were rather similar, whereas their disease definitions were not. By contrast, EBSPH and CHAP have similar disease definitions internally, but use different calculation techniques, and yet arrive at similar prevalence estimates, which are considerably greater than those obtained by either Brookmeyer or ADAMS. Choice of disease definition may play the larger role in explaining differences in observed prevalence between these studies.
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