Purpose: Family physicians need simple yet comprehensive algorithms to discriminate between community-dwelling older persons who are at increased risk of dementia and those who are not. We aimed to investigate associations between incident dementia and responses to a single question regarding subjective memory complaints (SMC) combined with scores on 2 simple memory tests that are easy to use in the primary care setting.
Methods: Analyses were based on data from 3,454 community-dwelling older persons who participated in the 6- to 8-year Prevention of Dementia by Intensive Vascular Care (preDIVA) trial, yielding 21,341 person-years of observation. Participants were considered a single cohort. We used Cox models to assess separate and combined associations of SMC, an imperfect score on the Mini-Mental State Examination delayed recall item (MMSE-5), and an imperfect score on the Visual Association Test (VAT) with future dementia.
Results: Subjective memory complaints alone were associated with future dementia (hazard ratio [HR] = 3.01; 95% CI, 2.31-3.94; P <.001), as were the MMSE-5 (HR = 2.14; 95% CI, 1.59-2.87; P <.001) and VAT (HR = 3.19; 95% CI, 2.46-4.13; P <.001) scores. After a median follow-up of 6.7 years, the occurrence of dementia ranged from 4% to 30% among persons with SMC, depending on the MMSE-5 and VAT scores. These test scores did not substantially alter the association with future dementia for persons without SMC.
Conclusions: In persons with SMC, the strength of the association between future dementia and an imperfect MMSE-5 score depends substantially on the VAT score.
Keywords: association learning; cognition; dementia; geriatric assessment; memory; neuropsychological tests; primary health care; risk assessment; self report.
© 2019 Annals of Family Medicine, Inc.