Digital exclusion and cognitive impairment in older people: findings from five longitudinal studies.

TitleDigital exclusion and cognitive impairment in older people: findings from five longitudinal studies.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsWang, Y, Wu, Z, Duan, L, Liu, S, Chen, R, Sun, T, Wang, J, Zhou, J, Wang, H, Huang, P
JournalBMC Geriatrics
ISSN Number1471-2318
KeywordsAged, Aged, 80 and over, China, Cognitive Dysfunction, Female, Humans, Internet use, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Middle Aged

OBJECTIVES: Older people are more likely to have digital exclusion, which is associated with poor health. This study investigated the relationship between digital exclusion and cognitive impairment in older adults from 23 countries across five longitudinal surveys.

DESIGN AND MEASUREMENTS: Digital exclusion is defined as self-reported non-use of the Internet. We assessed cognitive impairment on three dimensions: orientation, memory, and executive function. We used generalized estimation equations fitting binary logistic regression with exchangeable correlations to study the relationship between digital exclusion and cognitive impairment, and apply the minimum sufficiently adjusted set of causally directed acyclic graphs as the adjusted variable.

SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: We pooled a nationally representative sample of older adults from five longitudinal studies, including the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal study (CHARLS), the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), the Mexican Health and Ageing Study (MHAS) and the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in European (SHARE).

RESULTS: We included 62,413 participants from five longitudinal studies. Digital exclusion varied by country, ranging from 21.69% (SHARE) in Denmark to 97.15% (CHARLS) in China. In the original model, digital exclusion was significantly associated with cognitive impairment in all five studies. In the adjusted model, these associations remained statistically significant: CHARLS (Odds ratio [OR] = 2.81, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.84-4.28, ELSA (1.92 [1.70-2.18]), HRS(2.48[2.28-2.71), MHAS (1.92 [1.74-2.12]), and SHARE (2.60 [2.34-2.88]).

CONCLUSION: Our research shows that a significant proportion of older people suffer from digital exclusion, especially in China. Digital exclusion was positively correlated with cognitive impairment. These findings suggest that digital inclusion could be an important strategy to improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of cognitive impairment in older adults.

Citation Key13962
PubMed ID38714939
PubMed Central IDPMC11077883
Grant ListProtocol No. Y20220097 / / Wenzhou Municipal Science and Technology Bureau /
Grant 2022R413C077 / / Zhejiang University Student Science and Technology Innovation Activity Plan /