Multimorbidity and its relation to subjective memory complaints in a large general population of older adults

S. Aarts*, M. van den Akker, K.J. Hajema, A.M. van Ingen, J.F.M. Metsemakers, F.R.J. Verhey, M.P.J. van Boxtel

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Multimorbidity has been suggested to be associated with a variety of negative health-related outcomes. The present study was designed to evaluate the association between multimorbidity and subjective memory complaints.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was based on data obtained from a postal survey designed by the Public Health Service (Gemeentelijke Gezondheids Dienst, GGD) involving 15,188 persons aged 55 years and over living independently in Limburg, the Netherlands. Multivariate logistic regression analyses, adjusted for potentially important covariates, were performed to evaluate the association between self-reported multimorbidity and three outcomes related to subjective memory complaints.

Results: Multimorbidity was indeed related to subjective memory complaints. The association between multimorbidity and subjective memory complaints was positively influenced by age. Moreover, multimorbidity was related to the degree of worrying about memory complaints in people who perceived themselves as forgetful. Multimorbidity was also associated with reporting a larger increase in these subjective memory complaints during the past year. In this latter case, multimorbidity had more prognostic capability in men than in women. Psychological distress was related to all three subjective memory-related outcome measures.

Conclusions: In our sample, which was representative of the Dutch population, multimorbidity was associated with subjective memory complaints. The relationship between multimorbidity and subjective memory complaints differed between men and women and between age groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-624
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Psychogeriatrics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • multimorbidity
  • subjective memory complaints
  • forgetfulness

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