Psychosocial Factors Associated with Cognitive Function Among Middle-Aged and Older Hispanics/Latinos: The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos and its Sociocultural Ancillary Study

J Alzheimers Dis. 2021;79(1):433-449. doi: 10.3233/JAD-200612.


Background: Evidence suggests that psychosocial factors are associated with cognitive health in older adults; however, associations of psychosocial factors with cognition remain largely unexamined in middle-aged and older Hispanics/Latinos.

Objective: To examine the cross-sectional associations of psychosocial factors with cognitive function among middle-aged and older Hispanics/Latinos living in the US.

Methods: Baseline (2008-2011) data from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos Sociocultural Ancillary Study (n = 2,818; ages 45-74) were used to examine the associations of each psychosocial factor with global cognition (GC), verbal learning, verbal memory, verbal fluency, and processing speed independent of age, sex, education, Hispanic/Latino background, income, language, and depressive symptoms. Psychosocial variables included: intrapersonal factors (ethnic identity, optimism, and purpose in life), interpersonal factors (family cohesion, familism, social network embeddedness, and social support), and social stressors (perceived ethnic discrimination, loneliness, and subjective social status).

Results: In fully-adjusted models, purpose in life and social support were each positively associated with all five cognitive variables. Loneliness was negatively associated with GC, verbal learning, memory, and processing speed. Ethnic identity was positively and familism negatively associated with GC, verbal fluency, and processing speed. Family cohesion was positively associated with verbal learning.

Conclusion: These findings extend previous evidence from older, largely non-Hispanic White cohorts to show that higher purpose in life and social support are also strongly associated with cognitive health among middle-aged and older Hispanics/Latinos. We also highlight that intrapersonal factors, interpersonal factors, and social stressors have differential relationships with individual cognitive tests.

Keywords: Cognitive aging; Hispanics; Latinos; cognitive function; psychosocial factors.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Family Relations*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Loneliness*
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Middle Aged
  • Optimism*
  • Psychological Distance
  • Racism*
  • Social Identification
  • Social Networking
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Verbal Learning