Subjective cognitive impairment and affective symptoms: A systematic review

Nikki L. Hill, Jacqueline Mogle, Rachel Wion, Elizabeth Munoz, Nicole DePasquale, Andrea M. Yevchak, Jeanine M. Parisi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Purpose of Study: Subjective cognitive impairment (SCI) has been argued to reflect affective symptoms (i.e., depression and anxiety) rather than actual cognitive issues. Although a number of studies exist that look at the associations between SCI and affective symptoms, no review is available to aggregate this disparate literature. We addressed this gap by conducting a systematic review to better understand the relationships among SCI and affective symptoms among older adults in both community and clinical settings. Design and Methods: We reviewed available literature per the criteria of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA). Weight of evidence (WoE) ratings and narrative synthesis were completed for 58 articles. Results: A majority of studies focused on community-based samples (n = 40). Approximately half (53%) of the articles reviewed met high WoE criteria for the current review. Cross-sectional findings consistently identified a positive relationship among SCI and affective symptoms. Findings from available longitudinal studies (n = 9) were mixed but suggested a possible reciprocal relationship among SCI and depression. The relationship between SCI and anxiety appeared to be driven by fears over loss of function. Following consultation with health professionals, the association between SCI and anxiety was diminished or eliminated. Implications: Although SCI is consistently related to affective symptoms in older adults cross-sectionally, more longitudinal work is needed to understand their temporal relationship. Improved measurement of SCI would support a deeper understanding of the impact of SCI on psychological well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e109-e127
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2016


  • Cognition
  • Depression
  • Memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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