Background: Subjective cognitive impairment (SCI) is a potential early marker for actual cognitive decline. The cognitive manifestation of the SCI stage is, however, largely unknown. Self-report instruments developed especially for use in the SCI population are lacking, and many SCI studies have not excluded mild cognitive impairment and dementia. We developed and tested a patient-based questionnaire on everyday cognitive function aiming to discriminate between patients with subjective, but not objective, cognitive impairment and healthy controls.
Methods: Individuals experiencing cognitive impairment were interviewed to generate a pool of items. After condensing to 97 items, we tested the questionnaire in 93 SCI patients seeking care at a memory clinic (age M = 64.5 years, Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) M = 29.0) and 50 healthy controls (age M = 69.6 years, MMSE M = 29.3). Further item reduction was conducted to maximize that remaining items would discriminate between SCI patients and controls, using a conservative α level and requiring medium to high effect sizes. Internal consistency reliability and convergent validity was subsequently examined.
Results: Forty-five items discriminated between the groups, resulting in the Sahlgrenska Academy Self-reported Cognitive Impairment Questionnaire (SASCI-Q). Internal consistency was high and correlations to a single question on memory functioning were of medium to large sizes. Most remaining items were related to the memory domain.
Conclusion: The SASCI-Q discriminates between SCI patients and healthy controls and demonstrates satisfying psychometric properties. The instrument provides a research method for examining SCI and forms a foundation for future examining which SCI symptoms predict objective cognitive decline. The cognitive manifestation of the SCI stage is mostly related to experiences of memory deficits.