Unawareness of memory impairment in dementia: a population-based study

International Psychogeriatrics, 04/26/2012

Unawareness of memory impairment in people with dementia varies across international regions. The data support the notion that unawareness should be seen not only as a common neurobiological feature of dementia, increasing with severity of dementia, but also as a phenomenon influenced by social and cultural factors.


  • Community samples (total n = 15,022) from three world regions (Latin America, China, and India) were obtained using cross-sectional population-based surveys.
  • Out of these, 897 (5.97%) PwD with memory impairment were identified using standardized interviews, diagnostic algorithms (DSM-IV or 10/66 criteria), and neuropsychological memory assessment.
  • Unawareness of memory deficits was ascertained from the participants’ subjective report.
  • The frequency of unawareness was calculated for each region and associations with demographic variables and health status were investigated using prevalence ratios and Poisson regressions.


  • Regional differences in frequency of unawareness were found, from 63% in China to 81% in India.
  • Unawareness was associated with depression in China and Latin America, dementia severity in India and Latin America, and education and socioeconomic level in Latin America.

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