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Population Aging at Cross-Roads: Diverging Secular Trends in Average Cognitive Functioning and Physical Health in the Older Population of Germany.

Steiber N - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: In line with previous research we find a highly significant Flynn effect on cognition; i.e., SDT scores are higher among those who were tested more recently (at the same age).The decline in average physical health is shown to be stronger for men than for women and found to be strongest for low-educated, young-old men aged 50-64: the decline over the 6-year interval in average physical health is estimated to amount to about 0.37 SD, whereas average fluid cognition improved by about 0.29 SD.This pattern of results at the population-level (trends in average population health) stands in interesting contrast to the positive association of physical health and cognitive functioning at the individual-level.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU), International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria; Department of Economic Sociology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

ABSTRACT
This paper uses individual-level data from the German Socio-Economic Panel to model trends in population health in terms of cognition, physical fitness, and mental health between 2006 and 2012. The focus is on the population aged 50-90. We use a repeated population-based cross-sectional design. As outcome measures, we use SF-12 measures of physical and mental health and the Symbol-Digit Test (SDT) that captures cognitive processing speed. In line with previous research we find a highly significant Flynn effect on cognition; i.e., SDT scores are higher among those who were tested more recently (at the same age). This result holds for men and women, all age groups, and across all levels of education. While we observe a secular improvement in terms of cognitive functioning, at the same time, average physical and mental health has declined. The decline in average physical health is shown to be stronger for men than for women and found to be strongest for low-educated, young-old men aged 50-64: the decline over the 6-year interval in average physical health is estimated to amount to about 0.37 SD, whereas average fluid cognition improved by about 0.29 SD. This pattern of results at the population-level (trends in average population health) stands in interesting contrast to the positive association of physical health and cognitive functioning at the individual-level. The findings underscore the multi-dimensionality of health and the aging process.

No MeSH data available.


Sample Composition.Selection of participants for repeat cross-sectional analysis.
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pone.0136583.g001: Sample Composition.Selection of participants for repeat cross-sectional analysis.

Mentions: Sample composition: in 2006, a sample of 7,440 participants was randomly selected to participate in the cognitive tests. Almost 80% of those selected for participation provide valid test scores [33]. The 2006 net sample involves 5,545 participants. Many of these participants were again tested in 2012 and, in addition, a large refresher sample was tested for the first time in 2012. This study focuses on test participants aged 50–90 and, for methodological reasons, it only considers results from respondents’ first participation either in 2006 or 2012 (no repeat testing). As illustrated in a flowchart in Fig 1, the sample of analysis (after the application of the age restriction, random selection of cognitive test participants, and selection of first-time cognitive test participants) involves 2,741 individuals aged 50–90 in 2006 and 2,913 individuals aged 50–90 in 2012. About 98% of the sample members provide valid SF-12 health scores and full information on controls variables (sample size for both years, N = 5,536). Of these, 4,851 completed the SDT on a laptop (self-completion) and 684 gave oral responses (see Fig 1).


Population Aging at Cross-Roads: Diverging Secular Trends in Average Cognitive Functioning and Physical Health in the Older Population of Germany.

Steiber N - PLoS ONE (2015)

Sample Composition.Selection of participants for repeat cross-sectional analysis.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4556449&req=5

pone.0136583.g001: Sample Composition.Selection of participants for repeat cross-sectional analysis.
Mentions: Sample composition: in 2006, a sample of 7,440 participants was randomly selected to participate in the cognitive tests. Almost 80% of those selected for participation provide valid test scores [33]. The 2006 net sample involves 5,545 participants. Many of these participants were again tested in 2012 and, in addition, a large refresher sample was tested for the first time in 2012. This study focuses on test participants aged 50–90 and, for methodological reasons, it only considers results from respondents’ first participation either in 2006 or 2012 (no repeat testing). As illustrated in a flowchart in Fig 1, the sample of analysis (after the application of the age restriction, random selection of cognitive test participants, and selection of first-time cognitive test participants) involves 2,741 individuals aged 50–90 in 2006 and 2,913 individuals aged 50–90 in 2012. About 98% of the sample members provide valid SF-12 health scores and full information on controls variables (sample size for both years, N = 5,536). Of these, 4,851 completed the SDT on a laptop (self-completion) and 684 gave oral responses (see Fig 1).

Bottom Line: In line with previous research we find a highly significant Flynn effect on cognition; i.e., SDT scores are higher among those who were tested more recently (at the same age).The decline in average physical health is shown to be stronger for men than for women and found to be strongest for low-educated, young-old men aged 50-64: the decline over the 6-year interval in average physical health is estimated to amount to about 0.37 SD, whereas average fluid cognition improved by about 0.29 SD.This pattern of results at the population-level (trends in average population health) stands in interesting contrast to the positive association of physical health and cognitive functioning at the individual-level.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU), International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria; Department of Economic Sociology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

ABSTRACT
This paper uses individual-level data from the German Socio-Economic Panel to model trends in population health in terms of cognition, physical fitness, and mental health between 2006 and 2012. The focus is on the population aged 50-90. We use a repeated population-based cross-sectional design. As outcome measures, we use SF-12 measures of physical and mental health and the Symbol-Digit Test (SDT) that captures cognitive processing speed. In line with previous research we find a highly significant Flynn effect on cognition; i.e., SDT scores are higher among those who were tested more recently (at the same age). This result holds for men and women, all age groups, and across all levels of education. While we observe a secular improvement in terms of cognitive functioning, at the same time, average physical and mental health has declined. The decline in average physical health is shown to be stronger for men than for women and found to be strongest for low-educated, young-old men aged 50-64: the decline over the 6-year interval in average physical health is estimated to amount to about 0.37 SD, whereas average fluid cognition improved by about 0.29 SD. This pattern of results at the population-level (trends in average population health) stands in interesting contrast to the positive association of physical health and cognitive functioning at the individual-level. The findings underscore the multi-dimensionality of health and the aging process.

No MeSH data available.