Background Changes in criteria and differences in populations studied and methodology have produced a wide range of prevalence estimates for mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Methods Uniform criteria were applied to harmonized data from 11 studies from USA, Europe, Asia and Australia, and MCI prevalence estimates determined using three separate definitions of cognitive impairment. Results The published range of MCI prevalence estimates was 5.0%-36.7%. This was reduced with all cognitive impairment definitions: performance in the bottom 6.681% (3.2%-10.8%); Clinical Dementia Rating of 0.5 (1.8%-14.9%); Mini-Mental State Examination score of 24-27 (2.1%-20.7%). Prevalences using the first definition were 5.9% overall, and increased with age (P < .001) but were unaffected by sex or the main races/ethnicities investigated (Whites and Chinese). Not completing high school increased the likelihood of MCI (P ≤ .01). Conclusion Applying uniform criteria to harmonized data greatly reduced the variation in MCI prevalence internationally.
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