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ICD-10 mild cognitive disorder: epidemiological evidence on its validity

  • Helen Christensen (a1), A. S. Henderson (a1), A. F. Jorm (a1), A. J. Mackinnon (a1), Ruth Scott (a1) and A. E. Korten (a1)...


Criteria for the diagnosis of ICD-10 Mild Cognitive Disorder (MCD) were applied to a sample of 897 community dwelling elderly participants. Criterion A (the presence of a physical disorder) was met by 44%, Criterion B (report of a cognitive disorder) by 17%, Criterion C (an abnormality in quantified cognitive assessments) by 60%, and Criterion D (exclusion on basis of dementia and other conditions) by 74%. A total of 36 cases (4%) met all four criteria. Correlations between Criteria A and B, and B and C were weak (r = 0·18), and the correlation between Criteria A and C was almost zero (r = 0·02). This suggests that no syndrome exists. Membership of MCD was predicted by a report that memory or intelligence interfered with daily life but not by performance on cognitive tests or by a report of physical illness. Cases of MCD had higher anxiety, depression and neuroticism scores than normal elderly, but did not differ substantially on tests of cognitive functioning. These findings call into question the validity of the ICD-10 diagnosis of MCD.


Corresponding author

1Address for correspondence: Dr Helen Christensen, National Health and Medical Research Council, Social Psychiatry Research Unit. The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.


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