Background: The criterion for dementia implicit in DSM-IV is widely used in research but not fully operationalised. The 10/66 Dementia Research Group sought to do this using assessments from their one phase dementia diagnostic research interview, and to validate the resulting algorithm in a population-based study in Cuba.
Methods: The criterion was operationalised as a computerised algorithm, applying clinical principles, based upon the 10/66 cognitive tests, clinical interview and informant reports; the Community Screening Instrument for Dementia, the CERAD 10 word list learning and animal naming tests, the Geriatric Mental State, and the History and Aetiology Schedule - Dementia Diagnosis and Subtype. This was validated in Cuba against a local clinician DSM-IV diagnosis and the 10/66 dementia diagnosis (originally calibrated probabilistically against clinician DSM-IV diagnoses in the 10/66 pilot study).
Results: The DSM-IV sub-criteria were plausibly distributed among clinically diagnosed dementia cases and controls. The clinician diagnoses agreed better with 10/66 dementia diagnosis than with the more conservative computerized DSM-IV algorithm. The DSM-IV algorithm was particularly likely to miss less severe dementia cases. Those with a 10/66 dementia diagnosis who did not meet the DSM-IV criterion were less cognitively and functionally impaired compared with the DSMIV confirmed cases, but still grossly impaired compared with those free of dementia.
Conclusion: The DSM-IV criterion, strictly applied, defines a narrow category of unambiguous dementia characterized by marked impairment. It may be specific but incompletely sensitive to clinically relevant cases. The 10/66 dementia diagnosis defines a broader category that may be more sensitive, identifying genuine cases beyond those defined by our DSM-IV algorithm, with relevance to the estimation of the population burden of this disorder.