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Patterns and associates of cognitive function, psychosocial wellbeing and health in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936

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    Rights statement: © 2014 Zammit et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2318/14/53
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2014

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Cognitive function, psychosocial wellbeing and health are important domains of function. Consistencies and inconsistencies in patterns of wellbeing across these domains may be informative about wellbeing in old age and the ways it is manifested amongst individuals. In this study we investigated whether there were groups of individuals with different profiles of scores across these domains. We also aimed to identify characteristics of any evident groups by comparing them on variables that were not used in identifying the groups.

METHODS: The sample was the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, which included 1091 participants born in 1936. They are a community-dwelling, narrow-age-range sample of 70-year-olds. Most had taken part in the Scottish Mental Survey 1947 at an average age of 11, making available a measure of childhood intelligence. We used latent class analysis (LCA) to explore possible profiles using 9 variables indicating cognitive functioning, psychosocial wellbeing and health status. Demographic, personality, and lifestyle variables - none of which were used in the LCA - were used to characterize the resulting profile groups.

RESULTS: We accepted a 3-group solution, which we labeled High Wellbeing (65.3%), Low Cognition (20.3%), and Low Bio-Psychosocial (14.5%). Notably, the High Wellbeing group had significantly higher childhood IQ, lower Neuroticism scores, and a lower percentage of current smokers than the other 2 groups.

CONCLUSION: The majority of individuals were functioning generally well; however, there was evidence of the presence of groups with different profiles, which may be explained in part in terms of cognitive ability differences. Results suggested that higher life-long intelligence, personality traits associated with less mental distress, and basic health practices such as avoiding smoking are important associates of wellbeing in old age.

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