Social participation predicts cognitive functioning in aging adults over time: comparisons with physical health, depression, and physical activity.

Journal Article (Multicenter Study;Journal Article)

OBJECTIVES:Several risk and protective factors are associated with changes in cognitive functioning in aging adults - including physical health, depression, physical activity, and social activities - though the findings for participation in social activities are mixed. This study investigated the longitudinal association between social participation and two domains of cognitive functioning, memory and executive function. A primary goal of our analyses was to determine whether social participation predicted cognitive functioning over-and-above physical health, depression, and physical activity in a sample with adequate power to detect unique effects. METHOD:The sample included aging adults (N = 19,832) who participated in a large, multi-national study and provided data across six years; split into two random subsamples. Unique associations between the predictors of interest and cognitive functioning over time and within occasion were assessed in a latent curve growth model. RESULTS:Social participation predicted both domains of cognitive functioning at each occasion, and the relative magnitude of this effect was comparable to physical health, depression, and physical activity level. In addition, social participation at the first time point predicted change in cognitive functioning over time. The substantive results in the initial sample were replicated in the second independent subsample. CONCLUSION:Overall, the magnitude of the association of social participation is comparable to other well-established predictors of cognitive functioning, providing evidence that social participation plays an important role in cognitive functioning and successful aging.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bourassa, KJ; Memel, M; Woolverton, C; Sbarra, DA

Published Date

  • February 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 21 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 133 - 146

PubMed ID

  • 26327492

Pubmed Central ID

  • 26327492

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1364-6915

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1360-7863

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/13607863.2015.1081152


  • eng