Open Access Research article

Prevalence of cognitive impairment in individuals aged over 65 in an urban area: DERIVA study

Emiliano Rodríguez-Sánchez1*, Sara Mora-Simón1, María C Patino-Alonso3, Ricardo García-García2, Alfonso Escribano-Hernández1, Luis García-Ortiz1, Ma Victoria Perea- Bartolomé2 and Manuel A Gómez-Marcos1

Author Affiliations

1 Primary care research unit of La Alamedilla Health Center, Castilla y León Health Service- SACYL, Salamanca, Spain

2 Department of Basic Psychology, Psychobiology and Behavioral Sciences Methodology. Faculty of Psychology. University of Salamanca. Spain

3 Department of Statistics. Faculty of Medicine. University of Salamanca. Spain

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BMC Neurology 2011, 11:147  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-147

Published: 17 November 2011



Few data are available on the prevalence of cognitive impairment (CI) in Spain, and the existing information shows important variations depending on the geographical setting and the methodology employed. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of CI in individuals aged over 65 in an urban area, and to analyze its associated risk factors.


Design: A descriptive, cross-sectional, home questionnaire-based study; Setting: Populational, urban setting. Participants: The reference population comprised over-65s living in the city of Salamanca (Spain) in 2009. Randomized sampling stratified according to health district was carried out, and a total of 480 people were selected. In all, 327 patients were interviewed (68.10%), with a mean age of 76.35 years (SD: 7.33). Women accounted for 64.5% of the total. Measurements: A home health questionnaire was used to obtain the following data: age, sex, educational level, family structure, morbidity and functionality. All participants completed a neuropsychological test battery. The prevalence data were compared with those of the European population, with direct adjustment for age and sex. Diagnoses were divided into three general categories: normal cognitive function, cognitive impairment - no dementia (CIND), and dementia.


The prevalence of CI among these over-65s was 19% (14.7% CIND and 4.3% dementia). The age-and sex-adjusted global prevalence of CI was 14.9%. CI increased with age (p < 0.001) and decreased with increasing educational level (p < 0.001). Significant risk factors were found with the multivariate analyses: age (OR = 1.08, 95%CI: 1.03-1.12), anxiety-depression (OR = 3.47, 95%CI: 1.61-7.51) and diabetes (OR = 2.07, 95%CI: 1.02-4.18). In turn, years of education was found to be a protective factor (OR = 0.79, 95%CI: 0.70-0.90). Although CI was more frequent among women and in people living without a partner, these characteristics were not significantly associated with CI risk.


The observed raw prevalence of CI was 19% (14.9% after adjusting for age and sex). Older age and the presence of diabetes and anxiety-depression increased the risk of CI, while higher educational level reduced the risk.