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Association of marital status with cognitive function in Chinese hypertensive patients: a cross-sectional study

BMC Psychiatry. 2022 Jul 27;22(1):504. doi: 10.1186/s12888-022-04159-9.


PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to evaluate the association of marital status with cognitive function and to examine the potential effect modifiers in Chinese hypertensive populations.

METHODS: A total of 9,525 adult Chinese hypertensive patients were enrolled in this cross-sectional study. Cognitive function, as the dependent variable in our study, was assessed by the Chinese version of the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). We adjusted for potential confounding factors in multiple linear regression models to examine the relationship of marital status with cognitive function. In addition, we divided the population according to sex to explore whether there were sex-specific differences.

RESULTS: Among the 9,525 study participants, the mean (SD) age for men was 63.5 (10.3) years, and the mean MMSE score was 24.9 ± 5.0, whereas for women, the mean (SD) age was 63.8 (9.3) years, and the mean MMSE score was 19.4 ± 6.4. Unmarried persons had lower scores on the MMSE and lower subscores in each of the cognitive domains. A stronger correlation between marital status and a lower MMSE score was statistically significant in men (unmarried men: β = -1.55; 95% CI: -1.89, -1.21) but not women (unmarried women: β = -0.22; 95% CI: -0.56, 0.12; p interaction = 0.006). Compared to men who were widowed or divorced, never married men were more likely to have lower MMSE scores (β = -2.30, 95% CI -3.10,-1.50; p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrated that being unmarried is an extremely important but neglected social risk factor for cognitive function. Sex was a strong effect modifier: being unmarried was correlated with a higher risk of cognitive decline than being married in Chinese hypertensive men, especially among older men, but this correlation was not observed among women. Moreover, never married men showed poorer cognitive function than those who were divorced or widowed.

PMID:35897015 | DOI:10.1186/s12888-022-04159-9

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