Social participation and mild cognitive impairment in low- and middle-income countries

Lee Smith, Jae Il Shin, Guillermo F. López Sánchez, Hans Oh, Karel Kostev, Louis Jacob, Christopher Tejun Law, Christina Carmichael, Mark Tully, Ai Koyanagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social participation may theoretically decrease risk for mild cognitive impairment (MCI). However, to date, no study has specifically investigated the association between social participation and MCI in LMICs, while the mediating role of loneliness is unknown. Thus, we investigated this association in a sample of adults aged ≥50 years from six low- and middle-income countries (LMICs; China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Russia, South Africa) using nationally representative datasets. We analyzed cross-sectional, community-based data from the Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health. A social participation score (range 0–10 with higher scores corresponding to greater levels of social participation) was created based on nine questions about involvement in community activities in the last 12 months. The National Institute on Ageing-Alzheimer's Association criteria were used to define MCI. Multivariable logistic regression and mediation analysis was performed. The analytical sample consisted of 32,715 individuals aged ≥50 years with preserved functional abilities [mean (SD) age 62.1 (15.6) years; 51.7% females]. In the overall sample, after adjustment for potential confounders, a one-unit increase in the social participation score was associated with a 13% decrease in odds for MCI (OR = 0.87; 95%CI = 0.82–0.93). Loneliness only explained 3.0% of the association. Greater levels of social participation were associated with a reduced odds for MCI, and this was not largely explained by loneliness. It may be prudent to implement interventions in LMICs to increase levels of social participation to aid in the prevention of MCI and ultimately dementia.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107230
JournalPreventive Medicine
Early online date31 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 31 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding: Dr. Guillermo F. López Sánchez is funded by the European Union– Next Generation EU


  • Cognition
  • Social engagement
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Epidemiology
  • Adults
  • Older adults


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