Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a nosological entity associated with a
higher risk of developing dementia. Previous evidence indicates that behavioral and
psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSDs) frequently occur in individuals of MCI.
These neuropsychiatric manifestations may predict conversion to dementia. However,
no updated systematic review has been conducted aiming to investigate the prevalence
of BPSDs in MCI in general population samples. We conducted a systematic review to
summarize research results regarding the prevalence of any or specific BPSDs in MCI
subjects out of the clinical setting, compared to subjects who are either cognitively intact
and/or demented. The PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycInfo databases were
searched from January 1st, 1990 to January 3rd, 2015 for general population studies in
which the prevalence of BPSDs in individuals with MCI was estimated. Twenty-one
studies met inclusion criteria. Studies varied in overall methodological quality as evaluated with a modified
version of the New Castle-Ottawa Scale for cross-sectional studies. Depression (median prevalence: 29.8%;
range: 6.8-63.3%), sleep disturbances (median prevalence: 18.3%; range: 7.9-49.0%), and apathy (median
prevalence: 15.2%; range: 2.3-18.5%) were the more frequent BPSDs across studies. The prevalence range
for any BPSD was 12.8-66.0%. No consistent pattern for differences in the prevalence of BPSDs according
to MCI subtype emerged. Studies considered different diagnostic criteria for MCI and used different instruments
to assess BPSDs in this population. In conclusion, BPSDs are prevalent among communitydwelling
individuals with MCI. However, consistent socio-demographic and clinical correlates for BPSDs
in this population remains to be established.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, depression, dementia, mild cognitive impairment, neuropsychiatric symptoms, prevalence.
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