Impact of road network structure on dementia-related missing incidents: a spatial buffer approach

Sci Rep. 2020 Oct 29;10(1):18574. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-74915-y.


Dementia-related missing incidents are a highly prevalent issue worldwide. Despite being associated with potentially life-threatening consequences, very little is still known about what environmental risk factors may potentially contribute to these missing incidents. The aim of this study was to conduct a retrospective, observational analysis using a large sample of police case records of missing individuals with dementia (n = 210). Due to the influence that road network structure has on our real world navigation, we aimed to explore the relationship between road intersection density, intersection complexity, and orientation entropy to the dementia-related missing incidents. For each missing incident location, the above three variables were computed at a 1 km radius buffer zone around these locations; these values were then compared to that of a set of random locations. The results showed that higher road intersection density, intersection complexity, and orientation entropy were all significantly associated with dementia-related missing incidents. Our results suggest that these properties of road network structure emerge as significant environmental risk factors for dementia-related missing incidents, informing future prospective studies as well as safeguarding guidelines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Databases, Factual
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Dementia / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Police / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Walking / psychology
  • Walking / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wandering Behavior / psychology
  • Wandering Behavior / statistics & numerical data*