Social network characteristics and cognition in middle-aged and older adults

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatric Medicine; Department of Quantitative Health Sciences; Meyers Primary Care Institute

Publication Date


Document Type



Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Cognition Disorders; Female; Follow-Up Studies; Humans; Logistic Models; Male; Mass Screening; Middle Aged; Neuropsychological Tests; Severity of Illness Index; *Social Support


Biostatistics | Epidemiology | Geriatrics | Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health


We examined the relationship between social network characteristics and global cognitive status in a community-based sample of 354 adults aged 50+ and with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores of 28+ at baseline. Multivariate analyses indicated that interaction in larger social networks related to better maintenance of MMSE scores and reduced odds of decline to population-based lower quartile MMSE scores at follow-up 12 years later. At follow-up, higher levels of interpersonal activity (more frequent contacts in larger social networks) and exposure to emotional support independently related positively to MMSE. The findings suggest that interaction in larger social networks is a marker that portends less cognitive decline, and that distinct associational paths link interpersonal activity and emotional support to cognitive function.

DOI of Published Version



J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2004 Nov;59(6):P278-84. doi 10.1093/geronb/59.6.P278

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences

PubMed ID


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed