Clinical Edge

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Subjective Memory Complaints in Future Dementia

In individuals with subjective memory complaints (SMC), the strength of the association between future dementia and an imperfect Mini-Mental State Examination delayed recall item (MMSE-5) score depends substantially on the Visual Association Test (VAT), a new study found. 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. Researchers found:

  • Subjective memory complaints alone were associated with future dementia, as were the MMSE-5 and VAT scores.
  • The occurrence of dementia ranged from 4% to 30% among persons with SMC after a median follow-up of 6.7 years, depending on the MMSE-5 and VAT scores.
  • Study test scores did not substantially alter the association with future dementia for persons without SMC.


Van Wanrooij LL, et al. Associations of subjective memory complains and simple memory task scores with future dementia in the primary care setting. Ann Fam Med. 2019;17(5):412-418. doi: 10.1370/afm.2443.