Subjective memory complaints (SMC) are important and may, in certain individuals, herald the onset of neurodegenerative diseases such Alzheimer's disease. However, they are very common and in some individuals will result from mood disorders/personality factors or systemic illnesses. Research has been hampered by the wide variety of criteria and neuropsychological tests used to define this disorder. Different terminology has also hindered the ability to generate generalizable results. We evaluate how subjects with SMC are defined within different research settings (community, primary care, and memory clinic), their rates of progression to mild cognitive impairment and dementia, and how individuals within these contexts differ in terms of complaints, personal characteristics, and help-seeking behavior.