Black-white disparities in functional decline in older persons: the role of cognitive function.
ABSTRACT Black elders have a greater frequency of functional decline than do white elders. The impact of cognitive function on explaining black-white disparities in functional decline has not been extensively explored.
To compare the extent to which different risk domains (comorbidity, smoking, socioeconomic status (SES), self-rated health, and cognitive function) explain more frequent functional decline in black elders, we studied 779 black and 4892 white community-dwelling adults aged 70 and older from the Assets and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old (AHEAD), a population-based cohort study begun in 1993. Our primary outcome was worse functional status at 2 years than at baseline. We used logistic regression to compare the unadjusted with the adjusted black-white odds ratios (ORs) after adjusting for each risk domain.
At baseline black participants aged 70-79 had higher rates of smoking, diabetes, and hypertension; lower SES; and worse cognitive function than did white participants (p <.05 for all). The mean cognitive score was 15.7 in black and 21.8 in white participants (p <.01). Black participants had a higher frequency of 2-year functional decline than did white participants (10.9% vs 4.7%; OR = 2.61, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.69-4.03 adjusted for age and sex). Adjustment for comorbidity and smoking did not significantly change the black-white OR, whereas self-rated health and SES accounted for about half the risk. Adjustment for cognitive function accounted for nearly all the associated decline (OR = 1.10, 95% CI, 0.67-1.79). Among participants aged 80 and over, those who were black had significantly lower risk for functional decline after adjustment for cognitive function (OR = 0.61, 95% CI, 0.38-0.96 vs OR = 1.08, 95% CI, 0.70-1.66 adjusted for age and sex only).
Cognitive function mediated the higher frequency of functional decline among black elders. Efforts to understand cognitive function may enhance our understanding of black-white disparities in health outcomes.
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ABSTRACT: Using cognitive data from the Health and Retirement Study and Asset Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old studies that were collected between 1992 and 2004, McArdle and colleagues (2007) found that a two-factor model (episodic memory and mental status) fit better than a one-factor model. The question that was addressed in the present study was whether these results would replicate in newer cohorts of data, collected between 2006 and 2010. We also tested age, education, and gender as predictors of the identified factors. Results confirm that a two-factor structure fits better than the single-factor model in the newer cohorts. Differential predictors were also observed.Journal of aging research 01/2014; 2014:798514.
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ABSTRACT: To examine whether observed differences in dementia rates between black and white older people living in the community could be explained by measures of socioeconomic status (income, financial adequacy, education, and literacy) and health related factors. Prospective cohort study. General community from two clinic sites in the United States (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Memphis, Tennessee). 2457 older people (mean age 73.6 years; 1019 (41.5%) black; 1233 (50.2%) women), dementia-free at baseline, in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition study. Dementia was determined over 12 years (ending January 2011) by prescribed dementia drugs, hospital records, and decline in global cognitive scores. The influence of socioeconomic status and health related factors on dementia rates was examined in a series of Cox proportional hazard models in which these variables were added sequentially in covariate blocks. Over follow-up, 449 (18.3%) participants developed dementia. Black participants were more likely than white participants to develop dementia (211 (20.7%) v 238 (16.6%), P<0.001; unadjusted hazard ratio 1.44, 95% confidence interval 1.20 to 1.74). The hazard ratio lessened somewhat after adjustment for demographics, apolipoprotein E e4, comorbidities, and lifestyle factors (1.37, 1.12 to 1.67) but was greatly reduced and no longer statistically significant when socioeconomic status was added (1.09, 0.87 to 1.37). These findings suggest that differences in the burden of risk factors, especially socioeconomic status, may contribute to the higher rates of dementia seen among black compared with white older people. Strategies aimed at reducing these disparities may favorably affect the incidence of dementia.BMJ (online) 12/2013; 347:f7051. · 16.38 Impact Factor