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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Socio-demographic and health-related factors associated with cognitive impairment in the elderly in Taiwan

Ming-Shiang Wu1, Tsuo-Hung Lan2, Chun-Min Chen1, Herng-Chia Chiu3 and Tzuo-Yun Lan12*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Population Health Sciences, National Health Research Institutes, 35 Keyan Road, Zhunan Town, Miaoli County 350, Taiwan

2 School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, No.155, Sec.2, Linong Street, Taipei 112 Taiwan

3 Graduate Institute of Healthcare Administration, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, 100, Shih-Chuan lst Road, Kaohsiung 807, Taiwan

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:22  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-22

Published: 11 January 2011



Cognitive impairment is an age-related condition as the rate of cognitive decline rapidly increases with aging. It is especially important to better understand factors involving in cognitive decline for the countries where the older population is growing rapidly. The aim of this study was to examine the association between socio-demographic and health-related factors and cognitive impairment in the elderly in Taiwan.


We analysed data from 2119 persons aged 65 years and over who participated in the 2005 National Health Interview Survey. Cognitive impairment was defined as having the score of the Mini Mental State Examination lower than 24. The χ2 test and multiple logistic regression models were used to evaluate the association between cognitive impairment and variables of socio-demography, chronic diseases, geriatric conditions, lifestyle, and dietary factors.


The prevalence of cognitive impairment was 22.2%. Results of multivariate analysis indicated that low education, being single, low social support, lower lipid level, history of stroke, physical inactivity, non-coffee drinking and poor physical function were associated with a higher risk of cognitive impairment.


Most of the characteristics in relation to cognitive impairment identified in our analysis are potentially modifiable. These results suggest that improving lifestyle behaviours such as regular exercise and increased social participation could help prevent or decrease the risk of cognitive impairment. Further investigations using longitudinal data are needed to clarify our findings.