Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

Complaints of cognitive decline in the elderly: a comparison of reports by subjects and informants in a community survey

A. F. Jorma1 c1, H. Christensena1, A. S. Hendersona1, A. E. Kortena1, A. J. Mackinnona1 and R. Scotta1

a1 NH&MRC Social Psychiatry Research Unit, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Abstract

In a community survey, subjects and their informants were asked the same questions about memory and intellectual decline in the subjects. Subjects and informants both commonly reported cognitive decline, although in most cases the decline was not seen as interfering with daily life. However, when responses from subjects and informants were cross-tabulated, agreement was found to be poor. For subjects, reports of cognitive decline were correlated with anxiety and depression symptoms and with trait neuroticism. Subjects' reports were uncorrelated with age and only weakly correlated with cognitive test performance, indicating little validity. By contrast, informants' reports were correlated with the subjects' cognitive test performance and age, but also with the informants' own anxiety and depression symptoms. Although informants' reports have validity, they may also be contaminated by the informants' affective state.

Correspondence:

c1 Address for correspondence: Dr A. F. Jorm, NH&MRC Social Psychiatry Research Unit, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia

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