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Cognitive complaints correlate with depression rather than concurrent objective cognitive impairment in the successful aging evaluation baseline sample.

  • Author(s): Zlatar, Zvinka Z
  • Moore, Raeanne C
  • Palmer, Barton W
  • Thompson, Wesley K
  • Jeste, Dilip V
  • et al.

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Whether subjective cognitive complaints are suggestive of depression or concurrent cognitive impairment in older adults without dementia remains unclear. The current study examined this question in a large (N = 1000), randomly selected, community-based sample of adults aged 51 to 99 years without a formal diagnosis of dementia (Successful AGing Evaluation [SAGE] study).


The modified Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS-m) measured objective cognitive function, the Cognitive Failures Questionnaire (CFQ) measured subjective cognitive complaints, and the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) measured depression. Spearman ρ correlations and linear regression models were conducted to examine the relationship among variables in the baseline SAGE sample.


There was a weak association between TICS-m and CFQ scores (ρ = -.12); however, a moderate to large association was observed for CFQ and PHQ-9 (ρ = .44). Scores on the CFQ were not associated with TICS-m scores (β = -.03, P = .42) after controlling for PHQ-9 and variables of interest, such as age, gender, ethnicity, and physical functioning, while PHQ-9 was significantly associated with CFQ scores (β = .46, P < .001) after controlling for variables of interest.


Subjective cognitive complaints are more likely related to symptoms of depression rather than concurrent cognitive impairment in a large cross-section of community-dwelling adults without a formal diagnosis of dementia.

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