Subjective memory complaints, psychological distress, and longitudinal change in objective memory performance

Glenn E. Smith, Ronald C. Petersen, Robert J. Ivnik, James F. Malec, Eric G. Tangalos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

122 Scopus citations


Between 1992 and 1993, the Memory Function Questionnaire General Frequency of Forgetting Scale (MFQ-GEN), the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised General Severity Index (GSI), and Mayo Cognitive Factor Scales Learning and Retention (MCFS-LRN and MCFS-RET) current and change scores were obtained for 294 of 397 (74%) participants, ages 55-97 years, originally assessed in a 1988-1990 normative study. In multiple regression modeling, the GSI and MCFS-LRN current score contributed 20% and 3%, respectively, to MFQ-GEN variance. Thus, emotional status was a better predictor of subjective memory ratings than either absolute objective memory performance or objective longitudinal memory change. Persons who developed cognitive impairment over the longitudinal interval reported greater memory problems, but memory complaints had little sensitivity in identifying these persons. In an approximate census sample of these older people, minor memory problems were reported to be frequent but not serious.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-279
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology and aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1996


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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