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J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 1993 Apr-Jun;6(2):105-11.

Memory complaint, memory performance, and psychiatric diagnosis: a community study.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287-5371.


This study examined the prevalence of memory complaint and poor memory performance on brief screening measures within a community sample of 810 adults. All individuals received an extensive household interview and a clinical psychiatric evaluation. Overall, 22% indicated that they currently had trouble with their memory. This percentage increased with age, rising to 43% for those 65 to 74 years old, 51% for those 75 to 84 years old, and 88% for those 85 years of age and older; the percentage indicating memory problems decreased with educational attainment. The prevalence of poor memory performance was 11%, also increasing with less education and increased age, rising to 26% for those 65 to 74 years old and to 40% for those older then 75. Those who complained of memory trouble were twice as likely to show poor memory performance (29%) compared with those who did not complain (15%). Multivariate analysis found age, emotional distress, and physical illness to be independent predictors of memory complaint; age, functional disability, education, and physical illnesses proved to be independently associated with poor memory performance. A higher prevalence of complaints of memory trouble was found not only for those with affective disorders, as might be expected, but also among those with schizophrenic, cognitive, anxiety, and adjustment disorders. However, only individuals with cognitive disorders showed a higher prevalence of poor memory performance.

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