Social Network, Cognitive Function, and Dementia Incidence Among Elderly Women

Crooks, Valerie C.; Lubben, James; Petitti, Diana B.; Little, Deborah; Chiu, Vicki
July 2008
American Journal of Public Health;Jul2008, Vol. 98 Issue 7, p1221
Academic Journal
Objectives. We examined whether social networks had a protective association with incidence of dementia among elderly women. Methods. We prospectively studied 2249 members of a health maintenance organization who were 78 years or older, were classified as free of dementia in 2001, and had completed at least 1 follow-up interview in 2002 through 2005. We used the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status-modified, the Telephone Dementia Questionnaire, and medical record review to assess cognitive status. We used the Lubben Social Network Scale-6 to assess social network. We estimated hazard ratios for incident dementia with Cox proportional hazards models, adjusting for age at entry, education, hormone use, cognitive status scores, and health conditions. Results. We identified 268 incident cases of dementia during follow-up. Compared with women with smaller social networks, the adjusted hazard ratio for incident dementia in women with larger social networks was 0.74 (95% confidence interval = 0.57, 0.97). Conclusions. Our findings suggest that larger social networks have a protective influence on cognitive function among elderly women. Future studies should explore which aspects of social networks are associated with dementia risk and maintenance of cognitive health.


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