The prevalence of mild cognitive impairment by aspects of social isolation

PLoS One. 2022 Jun 14;17(6):e0269795. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0269795. eCollection 2022.


Objectives: This study describes the prevalence of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) across different aspects of social isolation among adults 65 years or older.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we utilized the Wave 3 data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP). MCI was defined as a Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) score less than 23. Prevalence of MCI was calculated for above and below average social disconnectedness (SD), perceived isolation (PI), and demographic variables age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, and household income.

Results: The overall prevalence [and 95% confidence interval] of MCI was 27.5% [25.5-29.6]. The high prevalence of MCI was found in those who had above average SD (32.0% [29.1-34.9]), above average PI (33.3% [29.7-36.8]), were older in age (43.1% [38.9-47.3]), male (28.7% [25.9-31.5]), Black (61.1% [52.5-69.6]), had less than a high school education (66.3% [58.9-73.8]), or were in the lowest income group (46.2% [39.7-52.7]). Those with above average SD or PI had a higher prevalence of MCI in almost all demographics, compared to those with below average SD or PI. Those who were Black or African American or had less than a high school education did not have a greater prevalence of MCI when SD was above average.

Discussion: This current study adds to the body of literature that links SD and PI to MCI and sheds light on the possible existing socio-demographic disparities. Groups with greater than average SD or PI tend to have a higher prevalence of MCI. Further studies are needed to establish a causal association of SD and PI with MCI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / epidemiology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Status and Dementia Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Social Isolation