Playing board games, cognitive decline and dementia: a French population-based cohort study

BMJ Open. 2013 Aug 29;3(8):e002998. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002998.


Objectives: To study the relationship between board game playing and risk of subsequent dementia in the Paquid cohort.

Design: A prospective population-based study.

Setting: In the Bordeaux area in South Western France.

Participants: 3675 non-demented participants at baseline.

Primary outcome measure: The risk of dementia during the 20 years of follow-up.

Results: Among 3675 non-demented participants at baseline, 32.2% reported regular board game playing. Eight-hundred and forty participants developed dementia during the 20 years of follow-up. The risk of dementia was 15% lower in board game players than in non-players (HR=0.85, 95% CI 0.74 to 0.99; p=0.04) after adjustment on age, gender, education and other confounders. The statistical significance disappeared after supplementary adjustment on baseline mini-mental state examination (MMSE) and depression (HR=0.96, 95% CI 0.82 to 1.12; p=0.61). However, board game players had less decline in their MMSE score during the follow-up of the cohort (β=0.011, p=0.03) and less incident depression than non-players (HR=0.84; 95% CI 0.72 to 0.98; p<0.03).

Conclusions: A possible beneficial effect of board game playing on the risk of dementia could be mediated by less cognitive decline and less depression in elderly board game players.

Keywords: Epidemiology; PUBLIC HEALTH.