Association of Socioeconomic Status With Dementia Diagnosis Among Older Adults in Denmark

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Abstract

Importance: Low socioeconomic status (SES) has been identified as a risk factor for the development of dementia. However, few studies have focused on the association between SES and dementia diagnostic evaluation on a population level. Objective: To investigate whether household income (HHI) is associated with dementia diagnosis and cognitive severity at the time of diagnosis. Design, Setting, and Participants: This population- and register-based cross-sectional study analyzed health, social, and economic data obtained from various Danish national registers. The study population comprised individuals who received a first-time referral for a diagnostic evaluation for dementia to the secondary health care sector of Denmark between January 1, 2017, and December 17, 2018. Dementia-related health data were retrieved from the Danish Quality Database for Dementia. Data analysis was conducted from October 2019 to December 2020. Exposures: Annual HHI (used as a proxy for SES) for 2015 and 2016 was obtained from Statistics Denmark and categorized into upper, middle, and lower tertiles within 5-year interval age groups. Main Outcomes and Measures: Dementia diagnoses (Alzheimer disease, vascular dementia, mixed dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson disease dementia, or other) and cognitive stages at diagnosis (cognitively intact; mild cognitive impairment but not dementia; or mild, moderate, or severe dementia) were retrieved from the database. Univariable and multivariable logistic and linear regressions adjusted for age group, sex, region of residence, household type, period (2017 and 2018), medication type, and medical conditions were analyzed for a possible association between HHI and receipt of dementia diagnosis. Results: Among the 10191 individuals (mean [SD] age, 75 [10] years; 5476 women [53.7%]) included in the study, 8844 (86.8%) were diagnosed with dementia. Individuals with HHI in the upper tertile compared with those with lower-tertile HHI were less likely to receive a dementia diagnosis after referral (odds ratio, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.55-0.78) and, if diagnosed with dementia, had less severe cognitive stage (β, -0.16; 95% CI, -0.21 to -0.10). Individuals with middle-tertile HHI did not significantly differ from those with lower-tertile HHI in terms of dementia diagnosis (odds ratio, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.77-1.09) and cognitive stage at diagnosis (β, 0.01; 95% CI, -0.04 to 0.06). Conclusions and Relevance: The results of this study revealed a social inequality in dementia diagnostic evaluation: in Denmark, people with higher income seem to receive an earlier diagnosis. Public health strategies should target people with lower SES for earlier dementia detection and intervention..

Original languageEnglish
Article number10432
JournalJAMA Network Open
Volume4
Issue number5
ISSN2574-3805
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18. May 2021

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