BackgroundLittle data exist to describe serial population-level trends in cognitive impairment- especially among minority communities. Because memory problems are among the first warning signs of cognitive impairment, they provide a potential method for monitoring changes in cognitive health at the population level. This exploratory study aimed to: 1) estimate prevalence of memory problems among US residents by race/ethnicity, age category; and 2) examine whether racial/ethnic differences in subjective cognitive concerns (memory problems) varied across recent time periods.
Design and settingSerial cross-sectional analysis of self-reported data from the National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES), 1999-2014.
Participants20,585 participants aged ≥45 years during 1999-2014, who reported race/ethnicity as non-Hispanic White (NHW), non-Hispanic Black (NHB), and Latino/Hispanic.
MeasurementsThe outcome of interest was subjective cognitive concerns, identified as self-reported memory problems. The frequencies of memory problems were examined for each 4-year period, across racial/ethnic groups.
ResultsIn adjusted analyses, compared with older (aged ≥ 65 years) NHWs, disparities in subjective cognitive concerns were observed for older Latinos for most periods (range of AOR: 1.43 - 2.01, P<.05). Additionally, Latinos without a high school education had significantly higher odds of reporting memory problems than NHW in multiple periods (range of AOR: 1.95 - 2.17, P<.005), while Latino high school graduates did not. There were no significant changes in racial/ethnic differences in subjective cognitive concerns over time.
ConclusionsThe prevalence of subjective cognitive concerns across time periods points to a need to engage patients - particularly older and less-educated Latinos - about warning signs for cognitive impairment. The impact of education on subjective cognitive concerns in older Latinos may be related to acculturation and warrant further investigation.