Mild cognitive impairment: Conceptual, assessment, ethical, and social issues
Perla Werner1, Amos D Korczyn2
1Department of Gerontology, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel; 2Sieratzki Chair of Neurology, Department of Neurology, Tel Aviv University, Ramat-Aviv, Israel
Abstract: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is defined as a condition characterized by newly acquired cognitive decline to an extent that is beyond that expected for age or educational background, yet not causing significant functional impairment. The concept of MCI has received considerable attention in the literature over the past few years, and aspects related to its definition, prevalence, and evolution have been extensively studied and reviewed. Here we attempt to synthesize the implications of the current status of this entity, focusing on the conceptual, methodological, and, in particular, the social and ethical aspects of MCI which have attracted less attention. We discuss the weaknesses of the concept of MCI, which is heterogeneous in etiology, manifestations, and outcomes, and suggest that the emergence of the syndrome at this stage reflects industrial interests related to possible development of drugs for this disorder. On the other hand, the formal diagnosis of MCI, with its implications that the person may develop dementia, may have a grave impact on the psychological state of the individual, at a stage when prediction of outcome is tenuous and possibilities of useful interventions are meager. We present suggestions for the direction of future research in these areas.
Keywords: mild cognitive impairment, assessment issues, ethical issues, social issues, dementia
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