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BACKGROUND: Current dementia risk scores have had limited success in consistently identifying at-risk individuals across different ages and geographical locations. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to develop and validate a novel dementia risk score for a midlife UK population, using two cohorts: the UK Biobank, and UK Whitehall II study. METHODS: We divided the UK Biobank cohort into a training (n=176 611, 80%) and test sample (n=44 151, 20%) and used the Whitehall II cohort (n=2934) for external validation. We used the Cox LASSO regression to select the strongest predictors of incident dementia from 28 candidate predictors and then developed the risk score using competing risk regression. FINDINGS: Our risk score, termed the UK Biobank Dementia Risk Score (UKBDRS), consisted of age, education, parental history of dementia, material deprivation, a history of diabetes, stroke, depression, hypertension, high cholesterol, household occupancy, and sex. The score had a strong discrimination accuracy in the UK Biobank test sample (area under the curve (AUC) 0.8, 95% CI 0.78 to 0.82) and in the Whitehall cohort (AUC 0.77, 95% CI 0.72 to 0.81). The UKBDRS also significantly outperformed three other widely used dementia risk scores originally developed in cohorts in Australia (the Australian National University Alzheimer's Disease Risk Index), Finland (the Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Ageing, and Dementia score), and the UK (Dementia Risk Score). CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Our risk score represents an easy-to-use tool to identify individuals at risk for dementia in the UK. Further research is required to determine the validity of this score in other populations.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Ment Health

Publication Date





Adult psychiatry, Delirium & cognitive disorders, PSYCHIATRY, Humans, Biological Specimen Banks, Australia, Risk Factors, Dementia, United Kingdom