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Publication Detail
Community engagement and dementia risk: Time-to-event analyses from a national cohort study
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Fancourt D, Steptoe A, Cadar D
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ. Background: There is increasing interest in the potential health benefits of referring older adults to engage in community leisure activities ('social prescribing') to help promote healthy cognitive ageing. However, it remains unclear whether beneficial effects of community engagement are independent of the well-known protective effects of broader structural, functional and subjective social factors. Methods: We analysed data from 9550 adults aged 50+ from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, with baseline from 2004 to 2005. We assessed associations between different types of community engagement and dementia incidence over a 12-year period. Specifically, we used Cox proportional hazards models, competing risk regressions models, and modified Fine and Gray subdistribution hazards models while controlling for all identified demographic, health-related, and social covariates. Results: Community cultural engagement (eg, visiting museums, galleries, the theatre) was associated with a lower hazard of developing dementia in older age independent of demographic, health-related and a broad range of social factors, using all three statistical approaches (fully adjusted Cox models: HR 0.58, 95% CI 0.41 to 0.80). Community group engagement (eg, attending clubs or societies) was only associated with dementia prior to adjustment for social factors. Results were robust to sensitivity analyses considering reverse causality, over-adjustment and baseline cognitive function. Conclusion: It is not just social factors that are associated with reduced risk of dementia onset, but community engagement may also be protective, particularly when relating to cultural activities. These findings are of relevance when considering the current interest in social prescribing to support healthy ageing.
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