Background: Socioeconomic status (SES) has been identified as a possible risk factor for the development of dementia, with low SES shown to be associated with a higher prevalence of dementia, increased psychiatric comorbidity and worse baseline cognitive functioning. Few studies have actually looked at the impact of SES within a clinical population using multiple measures of SES and cognition.
Methods: Data on 217 patients seen in an Inner City Memory Disorders Clinic were analyzed with respect to demographic status, clinical status and SES. Correlations were then examined looking at the relationship of SES to clinical variables and neurocognitive status. Regression analysis was undertaken to examine the relative contribution of individual sociodemographic factors to a diagnosis of dementia.
Results: In general, there was wide variation in the sample examined with respect to most measures of SES. Approximately one third (36%) of the sample had a diagnosis of dementia, the mean age was 66.1 years and the mean Mini-mental State Examination score was relatively high (25.4). There was a strong association between age, individual annual income range, education, medical comorbidity and a diagnosis of dementia, with increased age and medical comorbidity being the strongest predictors.
Conclusion: Increased age, low education, high medical comorbidity and low annual income are all associated with a diagnosis of dementia in an inner city setting. Age and medical comorbidity appear to be more strongly associated with a diagnosis of dementia than SES in an inner city setting.